BACK in the 2007/08 campaign, Rangers took seven points from their first three games in the Champions League group stages… and still never qualified for the knockout rounds.

A win over Spartak Moscow on Thursday night would take Steven Gerrard’s side onto that same tally at the halfway stage of their Europa League section but there is no way that he will be getting ahead of himself or looking too far down the line.

That season will always be remembered for the run to the UEFA Cup final but the wins over Stuttgart and Lyon and draw with Barcelona were incredible matches for Walter Smith’s squad.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the job and make it out of the group and, in truth, we were blown away by a star-studded Lyon team in the last game at Ibrox.

We were swept aside and we were well beaten. Then, of course, we went on the run to Manchester and we had some amazing nights both home and away in Europe.

When you are playing in Europe, you can take nothing for granted and you can never start thinking you are there until you are actually there. You can’t take your eye off the ball.

Maybe there was a wee bit of complacency crept in that season and we thought we were all but there. Even if Rangers do win on Thursday, they can’t afford to think like that.

Spartak will arrive at Ibrox having just sacked their manager and that can act as a positive and a negative. Some of the players that haven’t been playing will get a lift from that and some of the ones that have been playing might go the other way.

People will look at it and think that Rangers should be winning, or at the very least extending their unbeaten run in Europe to 11 matches this season.

But the word for me is complacency. That can be like a poison in football when you think you have made it or you think you are there.

I don’t think that will be a problem for Rangers, though. They have made huge strides from last season in terms of the performances and the results and they will take a lot of confidence from that going into a massive game under the lights at a full Ibrox.

They cannot allow complacency to creep in and I am sure the management team will be keeping them on their toes and keeping them grinding out results. You need a fresh mindset in every game.

I know Spartak aren’t in the best of form at present, that is why they have changed their manager after all, but they are still a good side and they are in this competition for a reason.

I don’t think there will be a mindset at Rangers of ‘they will turn up and we will sweep them aside because they are having a bit of trouble and we have played well recently’.

Spartak haven’t started well in the league, they are seventh at the moment after losing at the weekend, but they still have good players and they are still capable of coming here and beating Rangers.

They might not be playing with the confidence that they are used to but what I have realised in football is that you can get your confidence back just as quickly as you can lose it.

Rangers have got to be wary of them and the players will need the crowd to play its part, just like it did for the last half an hour or so of the Rapid Vienna game. It has to be like that from the start.

There is no doubt that this is a massive 90 minutes for Steven and his players and the difference between this season and last season is that there is a big game mentality in the team. Look at Allan McGregor, the two centre-halves, James Tavernier, Scott Arfield, Kyle Lafferty, to name just a few.

When the big games come around, the big players show up. Last season, it went the opposite way and in the big games people went missing.

That is the difference that the manager has made with his mentality and that is seeping through the dressing room right now. Expectation levels are rising again and these players have to be able to match that.

The squad that I was part of had leaders, it had winners, and there is a base there with McGregor, Connor Goldson and I think Joe Worrall will start on Thursday.

In midfield, you have Lassana Coulibaly, who puts himself about and does so much for the team. He is not a flamboyant footballer, he won’t split defences, but you want a player like that in your team every week, and especially on big European nights.

Up front, you have Ryan Kent, who has now got three goals, an in-form Alfredo Morelos and Daniel Candeias who, for me, has really gone under the radar this season.

He was fairly quiet against Hamilton on Sunday but you can’t fault his work rate and his desire and he can set the tone for the rest of the team. It is infectious when you play like that.

There have been times this season where he has been an easy target for the fans and the media. He is probably not getting enough credit for what he is bringing to the team as opposed to what he is doing individually.

He is a complete team player and Rangers will need everyone to have that attitude at Ibrox on Thursday night.