THE ink had not even dried on his new contract when the jokes began about Kenny Miller becoming the first player to sign for all three Old Firm clubs.
It has been only three and a half years since the striker last turned out for Rangers - or the old Rangers as those making the gags will insist - but the landscape has shifted plenty in the intervening period.
Rangers have gone into administration, been liquidated, then re-emerged to play in the fourth and then third tiers of Scottish football. When Miller plays his next league game it will be in a division called the SPFL Championship, where Hearts and Hibernian will provide the main opposition for the league title. Unsurprisingly, it was not a situation the 34-year-old could possibly have imagined when he signed for Bursaspor back in January 2011.
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Not everything is different, however. Craig Whyte and Charles Green had yet to enter the picture when Miller chose to move to Turkey having turned down the chance to sign for Birmingham City, but already an air of financial uncertainty was engulfing the Ibrox club. With Lloyds TSB pulling the purse springs tighter and tighter, Miller sensed he was not going to get the contract he was after and chose to move on for a fresh challenge.
The outlook is barely more positive now upon his return to Ibrox for a third stint. A stand-off between the board and supporters regarding season ticket renewals is yet to be resolved and, with substantial investment needed, the feeling lingers that decisive action will need to be taken soon if the club is to avoid hitting a giant iceberg for a second time.
Miller, though, is unconcerned by it all. Ally McCoist, the manager, has been unable to offer him assurances that the club's future is not in any peril but that didn't put him off coming back. The striker's new one-year contract, with a possible year's extension after that, is not thought to place him among the higher earners at the club, the player giving the impression this was about returning to a place where he feels comfortable rather than seeking one last payday.
"What has happened over the past few years has been sad for any Rangers fan, player or ex-player," he said. "But I've not sought any [assurances]. I'm here to play football. If things happen off the field then I'm sure I'll have to deal with it like everybody else at the club when that happens, but hopefully it won't.
"For me, I wanted to come back to this club to play football, pull that jersey on and get out in that stadium in front of these fantastic fans. I am just fortunate enough to have that opportunity again.
"That's every footballer's prerogative [if they are put off signing because of the club's financial position] but it was never an issue for me. If they think like that then they'll not come but I wanted to come back no matter what's gone on. If anyone else has reservations then that's up to them."
When he signed second time around in 2008, the move was widely opposed on the grounds that Miller was a former Celtic player who had struggled to score goals in previous seasons. This time around, there are grumblings of discontent centring on the club recruiting a 34-year-old rather than focusing on bringing through more of their own from the youth academy. Miller, though, vowed to try to win the dissenters over once again.
"Every club in the world wants to bring young players through," he added. "But you can't just go into a drawer and pull out a young player. You have to find them, you have to nurture them. If they are here already, great. If they are not, you have to bring players in.
"I'll be the same player as I was three and a half years ago. If people are happy with that, great. There are always going to be people who like you and there will always be people who don't. But I'll go out and try to win over the fans again, the same way I did six years ago when I came back and we won three titles and cups every year. If that's enough, that's great. If it's not, I can live with that."
And what of the prospect of lining up once more alongside Kris Boyd? The out-of-contract Kilmarnock striker has revealed he has had no contact from Rangers regarding a summer move but Miller hopes it could yet happen.
"That would excite everyone, when you see what he brought to the club in the four-and-a-half years he was here," he added. "I've spoken to Kris and I think that if the opportunity was there it's something he would be interested in."
n Kenny Miller was promoting the launch of Rangers' new PUMA third kit sponsored by 32 Red