FOR Rangers supporters, it was a JFK moment. The 50,000 punters who pack into Ibrox tonight, and many thousands more around the world, will no doubt be able to instantly recall where they were when the score from Luxembourg filtered through almost exactly a year ago.

The embarrassing defeat to Progres Niederkorn, a side who had never won a game and only scored one goal in European competition prior to their famous victory over the Glasgow giants, sent shockwaves further afield too. The new man in charge, in fact, well remembers the intake of breath he took when he saw the dire fate that had befallen Pedro Caixinha’s men.

Perhaps the only thing that could have raised Steven Gerrard’s eyebrows further at that point would have been telling him he would be the man charged with heralding in a new era at the club 12 months on, but that is where he finds himself ahead of tonight’s first leg of the Europa League qualifier against FK Shkupi.

He is determined to get off on the front foot, and that means avoiding his own moment of infamy so early in his Rangers tenure.

“I remember it coming across the yellow bar on Sky Sports News,” Gerrard said. “You were like; ‘Woah, that’s not going to go down well.’

“I certainly don’t want to have that surprise on Tuesday night at quarter to 11, certainly not.”

Far from putting the frighteners on his players though, Gerrrard hopes that the experience will act as a cautionary tale of what can happen if they are not on their mettle this evening.

“I hope it is in the back of their mind and I hope they are determined, they have to be,” he said. “A club this size shouldn’t lose games of football like that.

“We have to show this team respect and show the competition respect. There are no gimmies, no walkovers. We will approach the game right and show the level of intensity and desire that we have done in the friendly games. If we do, I am sure we won’t have a problem.”

Gerrard is aware of how a disastrous exit from European competition at this stage could drain the exuberance that the Rangers support are currently feeling around his appointment as manager, and colour the perception of his abilities to mount a realistic challenge to Celtic further down the line.

That’s why, for now, his focus is purely on the job at hand.

“My job is to get us through to the next round and that is my priority at the moment,” he said. “We are not sure who we are going to be facing if we progress further down the competition so there is no point putting any targets on it. We will take it one stage at a time.

“I think that was probably part of the problem last year, being drawn against the team from Luxembourg and thinking ‘who have we got in the next round and what is happening there?’ All of a sudden, bang. There you go. There is the slap in the face for you.”

Gerrard was sitting alongside one of the two acquisitions he made this week, Umar Sadiq, who has joined the club on loan for the season from Roma along with Lassana Coulibaly, who joins from Angers.

The pair bring the tally of arrivals at Ibrox this summer to nine, and the Rangers boss had a word of praise for his board for backing his vision for the squad.

“They have been superb,” he said. “They have done exactly what they said they would when we spoke before I got the job. So yeah, [I’m] really happy with the support.

“We are very close to completing what we want. We feel the squad has improved an awful lot. We are close to where we want it to be. There’s just a few more pieces missing maybe.”

There will also be some holes to fill. Bruno Alves completed his transfer to Parma yesterday after the club announced the termination of his Rangers contract, and Gerrard expects more players to be heading for the exit door.

As far as further arrivals are concerned, he wouldn’t be drawn on his reported interest in Millwall defender Jake Cooper, but conceded that he would require another centre-back.

Gerrard meanwhile praised his full-back James Tavernier after handing him the Rangers captaincy, saying that he was the natural choice to fill the role.

“Every time I have watched him, he has been Rangers’ stand-out performer, and watching him in the last few weeks, he ticks every box,” he said.

“He’s very well liked and respected within the dressing room. He wants to be the captain, he wants that pressure.

“He made it very clear to me in my opening chat with him that he wanted to stay at Rangers, his feelings and his love for the club, and how much he was craving winning some trophies here.

“That’s exactly what I’m feeling, so we’ll work together and try to build on that relationship and that partnership.”