It's a peculiar position Malky Thomson and Rangers find themselves in.

After all, it can't be too often a team appears in a cup final for the very first time while also being labelled favourites. But that's what lies in front of the Ibrox side on Sunday as they face Hibs for the right to lift the Sky Sports Cup. It's indicative of the rapid progress that's lifted Rangers from also rans in the women's game to SWPL winners last season, a triumph that earned a first foray into the Champions League. They are four times semi-finalists in this competition but have never gone all the way to the final hurdle. At Tynecastle this weekend, in their way are a Hibs side who have won it on a record seven occasions.

The Edinburgh side's league form has been indifferent this term - they sit sixth to Rangers' second - but they've developed a quite remarkable knack for collecting this particular piece of silverware down the years. For Thomson and Rangers, this is all new. But their manager has absolutely no doubt it's an occasion they will rise to.

"We’ve got an absolute belief in what we’re about," he said. "Our daily actions in training, that’s where we gain our belief. We’ve been very, very good and from the start of pre-season we’ve managed to retain everything we want to do, in terms of our style of play, how we’re going to problem solve in games. That’s culminated in us having massive confidence coming in to this game.

“It’s what we live for (occasions like this). Coming to Rangers as a coach or player, you want to test yourself, you want the challenges and the big stage, and there’s certainly none more so than that beautiful stadium out there. It’ll be an exciting day.

“We’ve proven the concept (we can step up) when we went to Europe. None of us, as a staff, had experienced Champions League and some of the players had experienced it with other clubs. With Rangers Football Club, the enormity of it and the expectation levels, the girls gave a true account of themselves. It wasn’t a surprise that all the hard work and effort they put in on a daily basis came through. The occasion we experienced out there has definitely helped us in this current season."

It's little wonder Rangers are brimming with confidence. Thomson's side smashed 10 goals past Glasgow Women last weekend and are unbeaten domestically this season. They battered Spartans 4-0 in the semi-final, and Thomson readily confessed that the only problem with scoring all these goals is it makes it rather difficult for him to pick just eleven players. Colette Cavanagh hit a hat-trick in that rout of Glasgow Women, Lizzie Arnott got a double, while Nichola Docherty, Kirsty Howat and recently returned captain Kathryn Hill also staked their cup final claim with goals.

“This weekend will be difficult to pick a team," Thomson chuckled. "It will probably be a headache! The last two or three games I could have put any team out and the end result will have been the same. It’s great in a sense, that I have the strength in depth we do have in the squad. It’s not just with experience, there’s a lot of young players in our group. We had five young players training on Wednesday morning. The future looks bright at Rangers and certainly in women’s football."

Sunday will be a landmark occasion in the history of women's football in Scotland. An afternoon slot on Sky Sports will make this the first ever SWPL match to be shown live by the game's long-running broadcast partner. For Hibs manager Dean Gibson, it must be used as another stepping stone to continue growing the game.

The Herald: Hibs manager Dean GibsonHibs manager Dean Gibson (Image: SNS)

"It's great to see," he admitted. "But I'll always say, until we hit the ceiling we need to keep doing it. Hopefully, after Sunday, we can take it one step further next time. It is great and a great change to what we're used to. But how can we then make it better again? Because we're not at that ceiling yet. It's brilliant that what's happening on Sunday is happening, but we need to keep pushing. We can't just sit on it and accept that we're in a better place. We can be better again."

A huge occasion, of course, but also a chance for Gibson and his players to make a little bit of history of their own. Victory would mean lifting this trophy for the eighth time and extending their own incredible record. The Hibs manager has an experienced dressing room at his disposal, one that includes captain Joelle Murray, Siobhan Hunter and Ellis Notley who, among others, have all been at the club since they were children.

"It's a positive group at the best of times," Gibson said. "But it's been even more positive this because of what we've got coming on Sunday. We've got a lot of experience in that changing room, Joelle, Siobhan, Ellis, a lot of players that even though they are quite young, they have played a lot of games for this club. We try and manage the enthusiasm sometimes, but you need it on weeks like this. I'm looking forward to the week ahead and I'm sure that enthusiasm will help us on Sunday.

"In my opinion, Rangers are the best side Scottish womens' game has seen. As a group, they've got a lot of players who have won trophies at Hibs and Glasgow City, there's a lot of experience in their group. Although we're the cup record holders, they have a lot of players who have won the trophy as well. We know what we're up against but we're confident in our ability. We feel we can beat anyone, especially in a one-off game. We've got a lot of confidence but we're fully aware of the quality Rangers have."