Twenty-one years ago, the two sides squared up at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final, Rangers running out 2-1 winners. Having trailed 2-0 in that 1992 showpiece, Airdrieonians brought on Andy Smith, who scored to pile the pressure on the favourites. Walter Smith's side would hold on, but the Airdrie goalscorer still looks back on that era with fond memories. During the former striker's five-year spell at the Lanarkshire club, Airdrie often played in the latter stages of cup competitions and caused upsets.
"We reached two cup finals in my time at the club," he reflected. "In 1992, I was disappointed to be named as a substitute for the final but was lucky enough to come on and score a goal which gave us the chance to push for an equaliser. I will always remember swinging my left foot at a cross from the wing and seeing the ball fly into the top corner beyond Andy Goram. I ran away celebrating, which wasn't the right thing to do as we were still behind, but I just got caught up in the occasion.
"Rangers were a very strong side then but it was a great day out for the town and is a time I look back on fondly. In 1995, we lost 1-0 to Celtic in what was a tight game. We were a force to be reckoned with at that time but the Old Firm teams were a cut above everyone else."
Times have altered greatly since then, with Airdrieonians now finding themselves languishing at the bottom of SPFL League 2. They will tonight play a Rangers side positioned at the opposite end of the same division and Smith has sympathy for the Ibrox side, having also suffered through financial difficulties while at Gretna in 2008.
"It was a horrible time," said Smith, now a development officer for the Scottish Football Association and coach of the Scotland Cerebral Palsy team. "I was fortunate in the sense I was there until the bitter end and coached Gretna in their final game. There were a lot of good people who lost their jobs far earlier than I did, so I can fully relate to what happened at Ibrox."
Gary Bollan has spent the past week trying to relate to his players having been appointed as Airdrie manager last Thursday. The demands of preparing his new side for the William Hill Scottish Cup tie have been exacerbated by efforts to source a new goalkeeper since first-choice Scott Gallacher is on loan from Ibrox and ineligible for the tie.
Bollan does intend to confirm the identity of his assistant manager today, though. "I put off going to spy on Rangers at Stenhousemuir as I wanted to get to know the Airdrie players better," he said. "But we are still well-informed."