From the moment they first kicked a ball in the fourth tier of Scottish football back in 2012, the priority for Rangers has been clear and obvious.
But while the Ibrox club are now finally on the brink of fulfilling their primary objective of promotion to the top flight, there is also a sense of underachievement among some of their players over their record in domestic cup competitions over the past four years.
“It probably should have happened before now, given the size of the club,” is Nicky Clark’s assessment of Rangers’ failure to reach a major final during that period. With the striker still unsure if his own career at Rangers will stretch beyond the expiry of his contract this summer, he is determined to set that record straight in the Scottish Cup.
“The expectation here is to win every tournament you are involved in,” said Clark ahead of today’s intriguing quarter-final against Dundee at Ibrox.
“You want to try and do that. It probably should have happened before but that’s all in the past. We just look to the future under the new manager this season. The club is moving in one direction now and we are all looking forward to getting through to the semi-finals.
“Any trophy you win is special, but it would be excellent if we could win the Scottish Cup this season as a Championship team.”
Clark secured Rangers’ place in the last eight of the tournament with his dramatic stoppage-time winner in their fifth round replay win at Kilmarnock, a sweetly-struck effort which also won him the “goal of the round” prize from sponsors William Hill.
“It was up there with my best moments at Rangers,” he reflected. “I was knackered at the time I scored it, I definitely didn’t want extra time!
“It was a special moment, with around 9000 Rangers fans down in Kilmarnock on a terrible night weather-wise. It was nice to send them home happy. I think a few of my pals voted for the goal, to be fair, along with my mum and dad – they’ll probably charge me for the phone bill!”
The 24-year-old has started just six matches for Rangers this season, with another 17 substitute appearances, scoring six goals. The knee injury suffered by top scorer Martyn Waghorn in that tie at Rugby Park, however, has offered Clark the opportunity to enhance his claims for a new contract at the club.
“I’ve not really had a chance to sit down and think about my own situation, with all the games we’ve had,” he added. “I’ve been in the team more regularly in the past few weeks, so I’ve just been concentrating on the football.
“But in a couple of weeks, I’ll need to think about it. I’m under contract until the end of the season, so any chance I’m given in the team, I want to take it and make sure I give myself every opportunity to be at this club. It was a dream come true for me to sign for this club two and a half years ago.
“When I look back on my time at Rangers, it will be with pride, whatever happens.”