On Saturday, Rangers host St Mirren in quite simply the most important game this season so far.
While Ian Murray’s men are not presenting the best form in the Championship, they have provided rather stubborn opposition for Rangers who only managed to win the first fixture versus them thanks to being inspired by Steven Thompson’s diabolical penalty miss.
Up till that point, they had really pushed the Ibrox men, and then again at St Mirren Park; another tough challenge till Rangers eventually ran out 1-0 winners thanks to Jason Holt’s stellar finish from an acute angle.
Add to this the fact Rangers’ own form right now is at its lowest point all season, having drawn and lost in the league in the past month following a 100% start, and regaining that early momentum is absolutely vital for the route forward.
Couple all of this with the individual significance of the match being a cup semi final, and Rangers’ success in only two of the 12 trophies they have entered into over the past four years and winning the Petrofac Cup becomes absolutely vital.
Not for promotion, of course; in the grand scheme of things overall you would concede that promotion is the most important aspect. But it is failure in cups in recent years that have punctuated Rangers’ poor showings overall under previous regimes, and thus turning that around and finally winning the Petrofac at the fourth time of asking would be the fillip fans probably need right now, witnessing their side teetering a little as things stand.
St Mirren lie a dire 7th in the table, with a pathetic two wins all season to their credit – both of which were away from home, but they will ‘raise their game’ at Ibrox as so many do, to try to nab a famous win.
A couple of months ago when this draw was made Rangers fans dismissed the Buddies such were the stellar shows Rangers were putting on, but now with performances not what they were, slightly more caution is being urged.
Make no mistake though – victory is vital – Mark Warburton needs to get the team right, the selection right, and the players need to show up to a man.
The collective has to prove it is still the best side in the league, something over which there is now some mild doubt.
A defeat would only make that doubt grow further.