The last four years have constituted an episode of the Rangers story which has taken their supporters into the footballing equivalent of George Orwell’s Room 101.
As Mark Warburton closes in on rousing the Ibrox club from the nightmare of their absence from top-flight football, he hopes those fans can fully share the pride he believes his players will deserve to feel if they wrap up the Championship title tomorrow.
Like the fourth and third tier honours claimed under his predecessor Ally McCoist in 2013 and 2014, it is an achievement far removed from the glut of major trophies that Rangers were accustomed to collecting prior to their financial collapse in 2012.
But Warburton believes the team he has put together this season will merit a special place alongside the great sides of the past who currently gaze down on them from the walls of both their training ground and Ibrox.
“I don’t want to say I understand how the fans feel,” said the Rangers manager. “Because I wasn’t here before last summer. But I did get a sense of the turmoil and pain they have gone through for the last four years.
“So it would be great for the players here that take Rangers back up. That would be the most pleasing thing. Hopefully the supporters can enjoy that moment and then we can build again for next season.
“You walk around Murray Park and those pictures [of previous teams] are there for everyone to see. You step inside Ibrox and the history of the place is tremendous.
“We’ve spoken to the players about those pictures on the walls and how that has to be a target for them.
“Now is their chance to make some history, to be the team that takes Rangers back to the top flight.
“It’s there for them and they should enjoy and relish it. They shouldn’t crumble under it and they won’t. They should thrive on it and seize the chance to make their own bit of history for Rangers. “We want their pictures to be up on the wall. To do that, you have to win. Rangers is about winning. So get used to it, enjoy the expectation. Hopefully they will get the job done and get their pictures up there as the first of many.
“These boys are certainly more than motivated and they want to deliver a performance on Saturday.”
Rangers will be crowned champions with five games to spare if they win at Raith Rovers tomorrow and Hibs fail to take maximum points away to St Mirren.
If that scenario does not play out in their favour, their next opportunity to breast the finishing tape and confirm automatic promotion will come at Ibrox on Tuesday night when they play Dumbarton.
“We are within touching distance now and it certainly feels like that,” added Warburton. “First of all, we have a difficult game on Saturday and Kirkcaldy is a tough place to go against a good Raith team in a rich vein of form.
“They are well organised and well managed. Our first job has to be Saturday and if we take care of that it’s on to Tuesday. It doesn’t matter where or when we do it, we just want to get the job done.
“We don’t want to lose any football match, so we want to get the job done as quickly as we can and in as much style as we can.
“I’m sure the fans will let us know what’s going on elsewhere on Saturday but we can’t allow ourselves to worry about that.
“We can’t control what happens away from us, it has to be about Rangers. It’s about us getting the result against Raith and seeing what happens elsewhere.”
A title race which for so long looked likely to be closely fought with Hibs right down to the wire has been turned into a procession by Warburton’s team who take a massive 14-point lead at the top of the table into this weekend. Rangers’ 4-2 win over Alan Stubbs’ men at Ibrox on 28 December is now regarded by many observers as the defining moment of the campaign.
“I didn’t anticipate or target a date to win the league,” said Warburton. “The job at the start of the season was very clear, the target was very clear — we had to win the Championship.
“There were no grey areas and there were no options of finishing second or third, we had to win the league.
“Other teams were putting runs together before the turn of the year but we always had our noses in front and we weren’t playing badly. We drew a couple of games but I wasn’t worried about that.
“What the Hibs win did at the end of December was reinforce the belief of the players in terms of how good they can be and how they can dominate teams. When they prepare well and concentrate they are always in good shape.
“We’ve been in good form for most of the season, we’ve had one or two blips but you learn from them.
“It’s a sharp group of players. I’ve spoken to Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller and the senior professionals like them tell me it’s one of the best groups they’ve ever worked with. The players know the demands and they know what’s at stake.”