THE first Old Firm game of the season has come and gone and now it is time to look towards the second one.

That doesn't mean that the build-up and the frenzy starts here and now, though. It is simply the next point at which Rangers and Celtic will meet and therefore can be compared going head-to-head.

By coming through the first section of the season having dropped only four points and with a victory at Parkhead to their credit, Rangers have done what they needed to do.

The challenge in the coming weeks is exactly the same and by the time Celtic travel to Ibrox on January 2, the title race will have a far more fulsome complexion than it has just eleven games and one Old Firm into the campaign.

During his stint as a columnist with The Evening Times, Lee McCulloch told of how Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall used to prepare their Rangers side for derby day.

To them, the matches before and after it were the telling ones. In many ways, the Celtic clash took care of itself as the big players were trusted to produce when it really mattered against their rivals.

You couldn't afford to go into the Old Firm having dropped points the week before because you had just conceded ground and put yourself under even more pressure to win.

And losing in the weeks after was almost unthinkable. If you had won the derby, then the momentum and the points were squandered immediately, and if you had lost it then you doubled down on the mistake and given Celtic another boost.

Gerrard, of course, doesn't have the experience or nous of these fixtures or title races that Smith possessed during his second term at Ibrox.

But the 40-year-old will understand the theory that Smith used to put into practice. Given the relationship between the pair, those words of wisdom have surely been passed on directly.

Rangers have failed to build on their previous Old Firm wins under Gerrard and if they can crack that challenge in the next two months, they will put themselves in a healthy position heading into the second half of the campaign.

The 90 minutes of derby success are great, but they ultimately mean nothing come the end of the season if silverware isn't won.

Gerrard will be confident that his side can collect a significant haul of points in this next block of fixtures but a few tricky ones lie in wait.

Rangers have the talent and the desire to become champions. Now they must prove they have the mentality.

A condensed Europa League campaign - starting with the trip to Standard Liege this evening - clutters the schedule in the coming weeks but Gerrard has the squad to cope with the demands at home and abroad.

The away fixture at Kilmarnock in a couple of weeks already looks like an acid test for Rangers, while going to Dingwall and Dundee United on successive December weekends is no easy task, either.

But having already ticked off Aberdeen, Livingston, Hibernian Motherwell and Celtic on their travels, Rangers should approach this run of games with a sense of belief and confidence, especially given the way they dispatched of Neil Lennon's side.

The celebrations were more muted and restrained from Rangers on Saturday as goals in either half from Connor Goldson earned Gerrard's side a comfortable 2-0 victory.

When Rangers ended their long wait for an Old Firm success at Ibrox in December 2018, the outpouring of emotion was understandable. It was a hoodoo burst, a weight lifted and, after years of anger and humiliation, a sign that Gerrard was on the right track.

The same can be said of their win at Parkhead last term. There was something more important than just the three points at stake that day and that was evident in the way that Rangers reacted at the end.

As Gerrard roared into the camera and his players partied on the pitch, there was again the feeling that a psychological barrier had been overcome.

The absence of fans at Parkhead on Saturday undoubtedly had an impact on the sense of occasion and the feel around the fixture.

It was an Old Firm like no other and one that those who relish the match will hope they don't have to experience too often going forward as supporters look to return to matches.

For all the good and bad around these meetings, there can be no denying it is a unique concoction and the first one of the campaign just didn't look, feel or sound right without fans.

Had the corner of the stadium been filled with 800 jubilant punters, of course Rangers would have celebrated with them. But it was noticeable the way that Gerrard was more reserved, as were his players, once the whistle had blown on an Old Firm afternoon that was as comfortable and commanding as they could have hoped for.

It felt like just a job being well done. Wins over Celtic are as important as ever, but they are becoming expected once again and therefore don't have the ability to derail everything else.

Gerrard will continue to emphasise the messages in public and private and nobody at Ibrox will be getting carried away. Fans are right to be cautious right now and, even although the signs are promising at present, Rangers still have points to earn and prove in the Premiership.

Come the turn of the year, it will be time to reassess just where Rangers are in terms of their title aspirations. Until then, they can only focus on the job in hand rather than what is going on across the city.

The Old Firm game was, after all, just another three points for Rangers.