The maths is simple, according to Gavin Rae.

Retired ex-Rangers midfielder Rae has watched his former employers struggle for form since returning from their winter training camp in Dubai. Poor performances and results saw Steven Gerrard's side slump a whopping 13 points behind rivals Celtic who, following their own winter trip, went from strength to strength.

With eight games remaining in the Premiership for the Hoops, and nine for the Ibrox outfit, the latter still technically stand to gain a potential 27 points should the SPFL decide not to call the top tier prematurely. Points which, of course, would take into account two derbies between the two. Celtic have proven not to be all-conquering this season, after all, losing to Gers and Livingston while also drawing with the Lions and Hibs, too.

So Rangers catching Celts is doable, mathematically, albeit entirely unlikely. Rae, though, believes the most minuscule slever of hope is still just that, hope. Which is exactly what will make it so difficult for Gers to stomach sacrificing the league and accepting defeat. "Celtic are so far in front at the moment and they've been the form team since January," Rae told Herald and Times Sport.

"They've looked like they were going to win the title. But that wasn't mathematically definitive, they could still be caught. I can see from both sides, Rangers will be unhappy at not being given the chance to catch them.

"I think the majority of players would love to see the season played out. Even if you're Rangers, a few points behind, there are still a couple of Old Firm games and a chance. As hard as it sounds and far away as they were, there is still a chance. Though, from a Celtic point of view, it would be fair because they're so far in front. It's through no fault of Celtic's own that they've not been able to finish the season."

Rae was part of a Rangers side boasting perennial title contenders including the likes of Stefan Klos, Fernando Ricksen and Barry Ferguson. The type of character - and player - the current squad, perhaps, is lacking. Celtic, on the other hand, can call on numerous players in their first-team, and on their bench, who have experience of winning trophies. And for Rae, that has been one of the main differences in recent years.

"Rangers were playing really well," he added. "They went to Parkhead and got a great result. You think at that point that they've got a really good opportunity. They were getting results and were at the top of the league, they were ready to kick on. But they haven't.

"Celtic, though, have been there and done it over the past few years with the treble Treble and are seasoned winners. They have experienced players who know how to win, and sometimes that's what has been the difference. In a tough time they've been able to knuckle down and get the results when they've needed them.

"I think it's down to experience. Obviously there are some fantastic players at Rangers and the squad is amazing and Steven Gerrard is a winner. But Celtic have been there and done it. Rangers maybe don't have enough players who have been in that position, seasoned pros who have won loads of trophies. Celtic are more used to it, when times get tough just cracking on.

"Rangers maybe don't have as many characters as there were back in the day, not so much my time, I played with some great players. But before my time there were some unbelievable leaders in the Rangers team. Rewind to December they were doing really well, so there are definitely some players in that team who can lead, but others are just not quite used to it."

One man Rae, 42, has been impressed by is Gers boss Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool icon, he says, has brought a winning mentality with him since taking the helm back in 2018. While it has not yet delivered silverware, it has been clear that the manager's standards are a lot higher than perhaps his players have been used to.

"I think Steven has done well to an extent," Rae said. "He changed the mentality when he came in and galvanised the players, bringing a winning mentality back. Unfortunately, as poor as Rangers have been since the split, Celtic have been the opposite, so that creates a gap again.

"For a young manager he's done well, there's been some good signings, some alright signings. Unfortunately at a club like Rangers you're judged on winning games every week and winning trophies and he's not delivered yet. I do think he's done well but there is room for improvement."