Just a few weeks ago, it looked as though Rangers were shaping up for a season to remember. At the moment, though, it is one the majority of their fans would rather forget.

Phillipe Clement had inherited from Michael Beale a bedraggled squad shorn of belief, dragged them up by the bootstraps and manoeuvred them into a position where the league title was in their gift. Then, in a four-day period when they visited Dingwall and Dens Park, the wheels came off.

Defeat at Celtic Park a couple of weeks ago, their third from four matches against Celtic this season, all-but confirmed their Premiership fate. A late collapse at Tynecastle on the league season’s closing day meant they finished eight points adrift of their fierce rivals, and now go into Saturday’s Scottish Cup final on something of a downer.

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But, according to a former Ibrox hero, and a man who therefore knows about such things, all is not lost.

The league may be, mind you, which is always the main goal. But with the League Cup already tucked into the Ibrox trophy cabinet, Arthur Numan believes that if his old side can add the Scottish Cup on Saturday, this can still be a season for Rangers supporters to recall fondly.

If they are to do that, then they will have to do something they have yet to manage this season, and defeat Celtic. But if they can, not only does the Dutchman think that can give their fans some succour for the summer, but it can propel them to bigger and better things next season, just as the cup double his team won back in 2002 did for them.

And their opponents that day at Hampden? Celtic, of course.

“When I first signed here in 1998, we won a treble, then a double,” Numan said.

“But then Martin O’Neill came in and started winning a lot. So, we’ve gone from being heroes to getting slaughtered. We were under pressure because it’s all about winning trophies.

“Alex McLeish took over mid-season, but we were 11 points behind. I thought we cannot win the league anymore so we must focus on winning the League Cup and then the Scottish Cup. That’s why this year’s Scottish Cup is so important.

“OK Rangers haven’t won the league, but they can still win a double and that makes it special.

“What did that give my side going into the next season? Belief, confidence. When we won the League Cup that season, the biggest moment came in the semi-final with that screamer from Bert Konterman.

“I think that was the most important goal of my entire five years here, because that changed everything. You could see the belief return and the next season we went on to win a treble.

“For this team now, they need to focus on doing something similar. I’m sure Clement will get the whole squad together and say, ‘OK guys, this is the final game. We should go for it.’

“Clement has done a very good job to bring the confidence back to the players. They are starting to believe again. Up until the 3-3 game at Ibrox, then in one week we gave it away.

"But they have to leave the league behind now. All the focus has to be on this game. It's a chance to make history. It'll be special, in front of an amazing crowd at Hampden. As a player on the park, you look around and think, ‘this is what it's all about’.

"When you lift the trophy, you become a hero."

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Rangers that May 22 years ago, falling behind twice on the day before prevailing by three goals to two in the last minute, and having to deal with a fire alarm disrupting their pre-match preparations on the eve of the game.

“We were in the Crowne Plaza,” Numan said.

“It was the middle of the night when the alarm went off. You thought, ‘what’s happening?’ “I think it turned out to be the best preparation for us because it kept us sharp. We were all standing outside the hotel in our underwear freezing.

“I don’t know what caused it. Maybe someone interfered with the smoke detector. But it was so strange. One minute you’re getting yourself ready for a cup final, then all of a sudden, the alarm goes off at 4am and you’re standing outside. But we still won, because it kept us sharp!

“That cup final was so special. It went 1-1, then 2-2 and then that amazing goal by Peter (Lovenkrands).”

Lacking the mental strength to cope with such moments of adversity has been a charge laid at the feet of this current Rangers squad, though, and Numan says that the players have to find fortitude within themselves if they are to have any hope of upsetting Celtic on Saturday.

“Of course, winning big games like this comes down to mentality,” he said.

“When you are sitting there in the dressing room, you have to be focused on the fact you can win a trophy - because that’s what the game is all about.

“People remember the teams that do. When I come back, I still get people saying, ‘Oh wow, what about that final or that one’. They are here in the mind.

“For this side, a few weeks back before the 3-3 at Ibrox, everyone though they could maybe win a treble. Since then, the results haven’t been so good, but you have to draw a line under that, forget it and focus on Saturday’s game.

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“I’m sure Clement will have spoken to the team about that. He’ll have told them they can’t change what’s happened. This is the last game of the season, Hampden Park, a cup final against your arch- rivals. It’s special.

“From the moment they come out for the warm-up, they’ll feel that vibe. Phew, I still think about it now and get that rush. From the first moment the referee blows his whistle, it’s 90 minutes that flies.

"They should believe in themselves. Yes, they didn't win the league, but the cup final is still to come and we have to focus on that.

"Hopefully in the dressing room, they will go to each other before kick-off and get themselves fired up."

*Arthur Numan was speaking at a Scottish Gas media event. Scottish Gas is the proud partner of the Men's Scottish Cup.