NEW Rangers manager Mark Warburton will hope to put the Ibrox club on a path to promotion when his side open their Ladbrokes Scottish Championship campaign at home to relegated St Mirren on August 8.
The former Brentford boss has been hired by chairman Dave King to pick up the pieces after last year’s campaign ended in humiliation.
Despite having the second biggest budget in Scotland, Gers could only finish third in the second tier and were then swatted aside by a rampant Motherwell in the play-off final.
But Warburton and his assistant, former Ibrox skipper David Weir, have already started work rebuilding a squad hit by the loss of 11 players this summer, with Wigan defender Rob Kiernan expected to sign next week.
A trip to Ibrox is probably not the start new Buddies boss Ian Murray would have wanted just two months after taking over.
The Paisley outfit finished bottom of the top flight last year after Gary Teale failed to unpick the damage done by Tommy Craig’s brief stint in charge. Like Warburton, he has a major task ahead of him as he looks to mount a promotion bid.
As things stand, though, Hibernian will feel most confident of giving Rangers a challenge for the Championship title after beating them to second place last year.
Alan Stubbs’ Easter Road outfit will kick off their season away to Dumbarton and hope they can build some vital momentum ahead of their first trip to Ibrox, which takes place just three weeks into the season on August 22.
In the other opening-day clashes, Morton host Falkirk, Queen of the South welcome Alloa to Dumfries and Raith take on Livingston at Stark’s Park.
Meanwhile, King - who has promised to spend “whatever it takes” to guide Rangers back to the Scottish Premiership - will hope they have promotion wrapped up long before they travel to St Mirren Park on the final day of the Championship season, which is April 30.