Events at Hampden likely did not cross Erik ten Hag’s radar on Sunday.

But as the Manchester United manager held court on Sky Sports following his side’s Carabao Cup win over Newcastle United, a first trophy in six years, his words were eerily resonant with what had just transpired 400 miles up the road from Wembley.

The Rangers players were probably still wandering around in that well-noted state of exasperated deja-vu as a feverishly passionate Ten Hag spoke, collecting their runners-up medals and shuffling off down the tunnel while Celtic, yet again, lapped up the capture of silverware.

“Rafa Varane, Casemiro, David de Gea… they know how to win trophies,” Ten Hag said. “You need such lads on the pitch to point the team, coach the team, organise the team. Not only so from a technical perspective, but, especially, a mental perspective. It’s so important.

“A winning attitude, they have to bring it in the dressing room, in the team. They have to handle difficult situations, and that’s what they did again.”

Ten Hag inherited a United squad branded  perennial failures, battered from pillar to post in the media, purveyors of misery for a fanbase long showered in unprecedented success. When the Dutchman arrived from Ajax last summer, there was little doubt he would instil tactical and technical improvements. The more pertinent question, however: could he make them winners again?

There was so much more wrong at Old Trafford than a succession of managers without the right philosophy to get an underperforming, expensively-assembled team firing. Multiple, embarrassing capitulations against rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, a grotesquely expensive – and horribly mismanaged – transfer strategy, a divided dressing room leaking stories to the papers almost daily, a fanbase in open revolt against hated owners. It was the very definition of toxic.

But within nine months, Ten Hag has ended the club’s trophy drought, sent likely La Liga winners Barcelona packing in the Europa League, and improved enough in the league to prompt discussion of whether United are, in fact, in a title race. The latter is probably beyond them, for now, but there is an inescapable feeling that after countless false dawns, something that retired with Sir Alex Ferguson has returned – a winning mentality.

Ten Hag will rightfully take swathes of credit, but he knew you can only get so far in preaching such a mindset; it need players who live it every single day. In Varane, he already had one in-house, a colossal defender whose injury-riddled first year at the club curtailed his influence. But then he added Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez who, when you include De Gea, formed a spine with a combined 51 major trophies. Then there’s that oft-quoted tale of Casemiro sitting in Madrid watching Brentford rip United to shreds, and instead of severing all contact with United, he allegedly told them he was coming to fix it.

More importantly, perhaps, Varane, Casemiro and Martinez do not bear the scars of the last several years of failure at Old Trafford. Given how Ten Hag lauded their importance to Sunday’s success, it feels safe to assume they have dragged others back from the brink. This time last year, there was growing consensus a bereft Marcus Rashford needed to depart Manchester for the sake of his career. Now, he’s arguably the most in-form forward in Europe. Bruno Fernandes is once more the dynamo who burst onto the Premier League scene in early 2020, before he was – like so many others – dragged down by the career graveyard United had become.

“They know how to win trophies.”

In some respects, it may feel like an add comparison to make with Rangers. After all, the core of the current squad delivered one of the most important league titles in the club’s history, won the Scottish Cup and reached a Europa League Final.

But they also find themselves in a position where the toll of repeated failures risks smothering their successes. The 2019 League Cup final, repeated traumatic title collapses, shock semi-final defeats to Aberdeen and Hibs, two annihilations at Celtic Park within 12 months, a nightmarish Champions League campaign – there are only so many blows a team can take.

Michael Beale is right in asserting he needs more recruits, but it is increasingly obvious that whoever comes through the door must not only be able to raise the technical level, but trigger a psychological reset. As it stands, there are too many deep scars on Rangers’ collective psyche.

Compare and contrast to Celtic, where one aberrational campaign notwithstanding, lifting trophies has become muscle memory. As Callum McGregor walked towards the Hampden steps on Sunday, a well-meaning SFA staff member pointed the Celtic captain in the right direction. With a rueful smile he could be seen mouthing the words: ‘I’ve done this before’.

McGregor is Celtic’s Casemiro, their Varane – a player who has been over the course so many times before that winning has simply become part of who he is. He has an elder statesman behind him in Joe Hart, a veteran of Premier League title wins and influential personality. In Ange Postecoglou, the club have a manager who has won leagues in three countries. No matter how the significance of his credentials were questioned, not least by those of us in the media, winning is winning.

READ MORE: Michael Beale got Rangers big calls wrong as Celtic lifted silverware

This is not to look disparagingly on Beale’s comparatively light CV. After all, few were familiar with the name Erik ten Hag when he became Ajax manager in 2017 – they certainly know now. Every elite coach was once a rookie, the more pertinent point with Rangers is whether the squad he is moulding has become too burdened by disappointment. It is not uncommon for elite athletes and coaches to attest that the pain of defeat lingers longer than the joy of victory. Do Rangers really believe they can oust Celtic as Scotland’s dominant force long-term? The faces that followed full-time at the weekend suggest not.

However, the example set by Ten Hag at United demonstrates that change can come quickly with the right plan in place. It’s now over to Rangers to find the right players, and personalities, to execute it.