Many Hoops supporters, and indeed some fans of other teams in Scotland, maintain that the Govan outfit ceased to exist when it went into administration in February 2012 before going through liquidation, and that it was another incarnation of the Light Blues which emerged in the bottom tier of Scottish football.
Johnston's chairmanship ended when Craig Whyte took over in 2011 before the club's financial implosion but he returned to Ibrox as a director in 2017.
He believes the 2-1 win over Celtic on Sunday, the first Gers victory at Parkhead since 2010, demonstrated the self belief at Ibrox going into the new decade.
Reflecting on the dark days of 2012 and the fall-out, Johnston insisted that Rangers not only survived but are now thriving.
"I left after we won the title for the third time in a row in 2011 and I wasn't believing my ears about what was going on at the club and where it was going," he said.
"You were hearing all the words like the Rangers have disappeared, they have died, it was a new club and all the stuff which self-interested people tried to maintain.
"I always wondered about the mentality of certain Celtic supporters, not by any means most of them, who basically said our club died in February, 2012.
"You know what? If that was the end of Rangers and Celtic and if that was the end of the big game that started in 1888 (the first Old Firm meeting) all the way to 2012 - we won that game.
"The way you determine it by the number of times (54) we won the top division.
"We were ahead in February, 2012 and in head-to-head victories, we were ahead of Celtic in 2012.
"So if you wanted to say the old Rangers of 1872 died - we beat you 2-0 and when the game started again in 2012, it will be 120 years or so before you can tie with us.
"So you were dealing with that sort of mentality, with Rangers fans being defensive.
"But the reality is Rangers survived and not only did they survive, they started to thrive again.
"What we are seeing is much more of a thriving Rangers than a surviving Rangers.
"We have left survival behind us and it is now all about thriving and seeing how far we can go."