The old adage about how you are only as good as your last game carries more than a degree of truth at Rangers. As does the one about how the next fixture is always the most important.

Those that are accustomed to life at Ibrox will understand and appreciate that situation well by now. For those that are new to Glasgow, that personal and professional balance will soon become the norm as they settle into one of the most unique and challenging environments in the game.

The reaction to the defeat to Kilmarnock on the opening day of the campaign spoke volumes about the demands from a support that have a notoriously short fuse and the expectations that have been placed on a squad that have been assembled to win rather than to challenge this term.

It will take time for the self-inflicted damage to be repaired but Michael Beale’s side have done their best, in terms of results at least, in the weeks since. Servette have been overcome in the Champions League, Morton were taken care of in the League Cup and the trip to face Ross County on Saturday gives them an opportunity to add to the three Premiership points that were collected with victory over Livingston.

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The most significant sign of progress, somewhat ironically, came in a match that Beale’s side did not win, yet the positives taken from the draw with PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday evening point to Rangers finally finding their feet, both individually and collectively.

It was the first outing in a sequence of four that could define Beale’s aspirations this term. Victory over County this weekend is non-negotiable, a win in Eindhoven would be remarkable and the visit of Celtic needs no introduction.

The snapshot after Rugby Park did not make for pleasant viewing. Todd Cantwell knows the bigger picture could look very different sooner rather than later.

“Definitely,” Cantwell said when asked if this run of fixtures was a chance for Rangers to lay down a marker. “For us, genuinely, our most important game is the weekend. We have to go there and try to beat Ross County away, which is not always as easy as it sounds.

“We need to go there, put in a really strong, solid performance, get three points then look forward to the away leg.

“It hurt [after the Kilmarnock game]. It hurt everyone. It hurt the manager, it hurt the players, it hurt absolutely everyone involved at the club. We don’t want to be part of that, we want to be part of nights like Tuesday night.

“I don’t think any of the new boys were taken aback by the reaction to that result. If you sign for a club like this, you’re away of what it means to play for this club and that games like that, you’re expected to win - rightly so. I don’t think it took anyone by surprise.”

Cantwell was an integral influence at Ibrox. He spoke last season about how the big occasions bring out the best in him and the play-off round fixture was another example of him rising to the challenge when his manager needed him to.

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The test this weekend is a very different one. The County clash carries its own weight, though, and Cantwell will once again be expected to lead from the front as Rangers attempt to keep the momentum ticking over and put more points on the board.

It is one thing being able to use the energy of Ibrox to take on an opponent of greater worth and greater skill. At Rangers, it is just as important to be able to take care of business when the situation on and off the park is somewhat different.

“It’s just a mentality thing,” Cantwell said of the challenge of going from Ibrox on a European night to the lunchtime kick-off in Dingwall. “The manager has recruited players who want to play for the badge and that should be the case whether you’re playing with nobody watching or with 50,000 watching.

“I can only really speak for myself, but every time you pull on that strip, there is no question of how much it should mean to you to play.

“The league is also a very important competition for us, so we can’t underestimate that.

“It (the mentality) is naturally in there, but, respectfully, I think that’s a manager’s job to keep those standards, keep those thoughts and processes going forward.

“It’s something the manager is very clear on - we are lucky to play for Rangers and we need to show that when we play.”

It is safe to say that both of those who scored against PSV at Ibrox made the most of their chances and repaid Beale for the faith that he had shown in them.

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Abdallah Sima’s showing was mixed overall, but his strike for the opening goal was a moment of magic. In the second half, Rabbi Matondo stepped off the bench to open his account at a time when many had written him off as a Rangers player.

Few would have started Sima and even fewer would have picked Matondo as the first substitution of the evening. Their respective impacts are, Cantwell believes, proof that Beale’s side are improving together all the time.

Cantwell said: “Goals lead to confidence and both of the guys who scored against PSV need confidence. Everyone does to be the best version of themselves.

“Rabbi has had to wait a bit longer than Abdi but the attitude and the way that these boys train on a daily basis, there is a real team spirit there.

“We are all happy for them. We’re happy for them because they scored for our team but we’re also happy for them as individuals, which I think is important.

“They are definitely coming. It’s not something that is going to happen overnight. Everyone - the manager and the players - has said it’s going to take time and on Tuesday night we showed glimpses of it against a very good team.

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“There’s absolutely no way you can put a timeframe or something like that. One week you can take two steps forward, the next you can take two back.

“But it is a time thing. The more time players get to understand each other’s movements, ultimately that’s when you’ll start to see the best of each other.”

If Rangers are to finish what they have started and secure a place in the group stage this season, it will take their best performance of the season – and of the Beale era – in Eindhoven next week.

Rangers will be the outsiders heading into the return leg but the memories of their win at the Philips Stadion 12 months ago will surely inspire Beale’s side this time around.

A Europa League berth has already been guaranteed. It is a seat at the Champions League table that Rangers want, however, as they gear up for their shot at glory on the continent.

“It would be amazing,” Cantwell said. “That’s what the club has set out to do, that’s what all the players in the changing room want to do, so fingers crossed that’s what we can achieve.

“For sure [this is a Champions League club]. Being there on Tuesday night against PSV, seeing the fans, seeing the atmosphere, it would be tough if we’re not in the group stages.

“But we are playing against a very good team so we need to respect that. We need to give 100 per cent next week.

“We’ve shown that we can compete with teams who are very good. PSV are a very good team with a lot of European experience, and so for us to go to the levels we went to on Tuesday night, I think we can still be better. There is so much positivity for us going there next week.”