AT the end of Steven Gerrard’s first campaign at Ibrox, he and his players are older and wiser. Crucially, and importantly, Rangers are also better.

The silverware that supporters covet has once again evaded the Light Blues, but the final fixture of the season on Sunday wasn’t met with the relief of those in previous years.

This time, there is an optimism amongst the fan base as they head into the summer and eagerly anticipate the business that Gerrard will complete to bolster his squad.

Defeat to Kilmarnock on Sunday saw Rangers end the term on a low note, but the positives of the weeks beforehand raised spirits, and perhaps expectation levels at Ibrox.

A seventh successive league win wasn’t secured, but midfielder Ryan Jack is pleased with the progress that has been made overall.

He said: “We’re disappointed obviously to end the season with defeat and it was a chance missed to make history because there was a lot of talk about no team having won all their post-split fixtures.

“But at the same time it’s hard to have too many complaints because we’ve been on a good run and it just wasn’t to be on the day for us.

“The outlook is certainly much more positive than 12 months ago. A new staff came in at the start of the season and there were a lot of changes with players coming in and others going out. It’s been a good season but disappointing that there’s no trophy to show for it because that demand is there from the supporters, staff and everyone at the club to win silverware and as players we haven’t managed to deliver it.

“That is disappointing but I believe we have come a long way and I’m convinced we can challenge for trophies next season because we’re 12 months on and as as staff and group of players we have worked together and know each other better.

“I’m sure there will be more changes in the summer players-wise but next season is about getting focused, coming back for pre-season and the European games come thick and fast so it’s important we’re ready to hit the ground running.

“We’re going on our summer break so we’ll go away and enjoy that with our families and friends. We will reflect during that period both individually and as a team to see where we went wrong and can do better.

“There is no time to come back and try and get up to speed - you need to get up to speed quickly.

“As we noticed this season, you play good opposition quickly so there’s no time for complacency - we have to be back fit and ready.”

As Gerrard and his players went their separate ways after the 2-1 loss at Rugby Park, they would have done so with feelings of regret.

The defeats to Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup and Scottish Cup were amongst the most disappointing and damaging of the campaign and ultimately ended Gerrard’s chances of a medal in his maiden term as boss.

But Rangers can look back over the course of the Premiership and see where crucial points have needlessly been lost, where opportunities were missed time after time.

The finale against Killie, as goals from Chris Burke and Eamonn Brophy ensured Alfredo Morelos’ 30th of the campaign counted for little, was another example that must be learned from next term.

Jack said: “In certain games we didn’t show up - like Sunday and the previous one at Rugby Park where we were level on points at the top of the table after the winter break.

“We started badly and never really recovered well enough from that. If you are going to win leagues you need to come to go to places like Rugby Park, Easter Road, Pittodrie and take full points. We have shown that we have the ability in the squad to go and win big games but it’s showing that consistently.

“We did it towards the end of the season but as everyone is trying to make a thing of, there is no pressure then and you’re playing for pride so we need to do that more consistently throughout the season.

“Part of it is down to mentality. I’ve played in the league a long time so I know what it’s like going to Rugby Park, Easter Road and Tynecastle and they are tough grounds to go to.

“You can’t just turn up and think because you’re Rangers you’re going to win the game.

“You have to be fully focused and if you aren’t fully focused or switched on then results like Sunday’s defeat will happen. But the group of players and the run we’ve been on gives me optimism for next season.

“We’ve shown what we are capable of and the staff we’ve got behind us gives me real hope.”