When Duff & Phelps, the administrators, named Bill Miller as preferred bidder last week, it ought to have brought an air of optimism at least, but too many psychological scars exist to allow any other meaningful response to developments around the club.
Miller might yet be a restorative figure, but in the 12 months since the last self-proclaimed saviour walked up Edmiston Drive, too many promises have been broken. Caution has become the only survival mechanism. Ally McCoist has held several long phone conversations with Miller and, like others who have done the same, he reports back that the American trucking tycoon makes all the right statements and asks all the right questions.
His confirmation as preferred bidder has merely generated more questions, though. Mostly, they centre on his motivation for buying the club and what his exit strategy will be. For a 65-year-old man who has no interest in football, the purchase of Rangers is clearly a business proposition. So how does he intend to maximise his investment?
Miller has offered £11.2 million for the club and a further £5m is required just to stabilise from May 31 onwards, unless there is severe cost cutting. To bring Rangers back on to an even keel, particularly when there is no income from European football, Miller will surely have to invest around another £5m. A share issue two or three years ahead would be expected to generate little more than £25m.
So how does Miller intend to make a meaningful profit? A return can be made long-term, but Scotland is likely to be restricted to one Champions League place due to the co-efficient, which further reduces the income potential. Commercial revenues are not fully realised, though, and a viable business exists because of the sheer scale of the club; it is just uncertain how much profit it will deliver to Miller. Will he even see the purchase through, or will he modify his bid, when the SFA and SPL sanctions are clarified and if some leading players decide to utilise employment regulations and leave on free transfers?
The administrators worked hard to try and persuade the Knights consortium, led by former Ibrox director Paul Murray, to adopt Miller's plan to move the assets into a newco while leaving Rangers Football Club plc to try to agree a Company Voluntary Arrangement with creditors.
The Knights are adamant that a stand-alone CVA is achievable, but it became increasingly clear that Craig Whyte has no intention of helping the Knights, since he holds a grudge against Murray for criticising him last year following his takeover. At times during negotiations, Whyte simply switched his mobile phone off and couldn't be contacted for days at a time.
Duff & Phelps should have established a working relationship with the majority shareholder, but that failure was one of three strategic mistakes they made. Having been previously associated with Whyte, they were at pains to dissociate themselves from him once they became the administrators and so became hostile to him.
Whyte now has little inclination to co-operate with them either. They are so worried about how they are perceived by the public, in particular the Rangers supporters, that they have contradicted themselves in briefings, not always revealed the true extent of the difficulties they face and have often sought to portray others as being in the wrong (including at times talking down the Knights during negotiations and using emphatic language about Whyte).
The administrators also backed themselves into a corner during the wage-cut negotiations with players. The strategy was well-meaning, since it avoided redundancies and releasing significant assets to reduce the wage bill, but by allowing transfer fee clauses and setting a June 1 date to revert to the old contracts, Duff & Phelps reduced the value of the squad to purchasers and also set themselves a tight deadline; they have opted for Miller because it is more achievable in that time and carries less risk than the Knights' bid.
"We've got to give him a chance. He's going to be our boss, so he's a great guy," laughs Kenny McDowall, the assistant manager, dryly. "But [administration] has been a disaster. It just shouldn't have happened.
"The frustration was incredible when we heard. For us to do well we needed certain things to happen, certain people to help us who are in Monaco with a glass of champagne and a lobster's tail sticking out of his mouth."
McDowall can contain his anger, but there is a clear feeling among the innocent staff at the club that they have been let down, by Whyte, by circumstances, by a series of opportunistic decisions. With the SFA's 12-month registration embargo in place, pending an appeal, and players able to leave for free rather than accept their registrations transferring to Miller's newco, Rangers could have a team of mostly young players next season.
"It's unfair on the kids," McDowall says. "You could finish them. It makes a mockery of the league. People think we've been selfish looking at it from our point of view, but it's for the game here as well. We were talking to Peter Houston the other night and he reckons Dundee United would lose £600,000 if we weren't in the league."
Within and around Rangers, there is still only turmoil.