Kenny Miller says he is not prepared to predict where Rangers will end up this season - but is forecasting a step up in performance.
The 54-time Scottish champions made their return to the top flight last summer, with the excited Ibrox support declaring they were “going for 55”.
But it turned out to be a nightmare year for the Light Blues as they limped home in third place, 39 points behind rampant champions Celtic.
Now on the eve of their opening clash of the new Ladbrokes Premiership campaign against Motherwell on Sunday, Miller is taking a more circumspect view.
The 37-year-old said: “I am not going to make predictions because you could end up with egg on your face. We are looking to be competitive and to do that we needed better players.
“I won’t predict where we could finish, we want to put up a bigger challenge and obviously when you set out at the start of the season you want to finish as high as you possibly can - and that is first position.
“I am not going to say we are going to win the league but what I want us to be is far more competitive over the course of the season to be more successful.
“I want us to be better and everybody in that dressing room is working towards us being better.
“It will be a competitive league, whether that be for the title or for second, third or fourth spot. It is a season to look forward to.”
Asked if there was a danger the Light Blues could trail as far behind in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops as they did last season, the former Scotland striker replied: “I would hope not but I’m not going to make crazy predictions. But we’re definitely confident that will be a lot closer this season.”
Pedro Caixinha’s side have bounced back from the humiliation of being dumped out of the Europa League by Progres Niederkorn with three encouraging friendly results, drawing against French giants Marseille before beating final pre-season opponents Watford and Sheffield Wednesday.
Miller - who sent Gers’ 10,000 string travelling support at Hillsbrough last Sunday into raptures as he netted in a 2-0 win - is not getting carried away with those warm-up displays.
But he reckons they have eased the scrutiny his side will be under at Fir Park this weekend.
“We’ve got to be realistic, they are pre-season games,” said the veteran frontman. “But had we not got those results then there would have been a lot more pressure building into the first game.
“We took such a phenomenal support down to Sheffield that the game was like a home game, so it was important that we put on a decent performance and backed it up with a result.
“The supporters of the club are definitely entitled to their opinions and to vent their frustrations when things don’t go well.
“We are looking to be better, it was frustrating for everybody last season in the way it went, it was stop-start and our form was patchy at best.
“We need to have a far higher level of consistency this year and it is important we start well.”
Caixinha has had his fair share of troubling days at Ibrox since taking over back in March.
But Miller insists the Portuguese boss presides over a united camp.
“We are fully behind any manager of this football club,” he said. “You have earned the right to manage this great club, so you have got to have that respect.
“We have found a way of playing over the last three games that has been very successful, albeit in friendlies.
“We are definitely confident in what has happened over the last two or three weeks, the work we have put in and the belief we have in the manager and in each other as players.”