BEFORE a ball was kicked this month, we said that December could be a defining period for Rangers because of the run of tricky Premiership games, the cup final and the visit of Young Boys.

There have been two setbacks already after the draw with Aberdeen and the defeat to Celtic at Hampden on Sunday but all the focus has to be on the next game and the chance to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Europa League at a packed Ibrox.

That might be easier said than done for some of the players given how upset they were after losing the Betfred Cup final. They, like the fans, were absolutely gutted and those regrets will linger for a long time.

They played Celtic off the park, created so many chances and then lost the game through an offside goal. But the bottom line is the result.

Now it is about how they come back from that and recover from that and the focus has to be on getting a result at Ibrox to ensure we progress from Group G. Rangers have to put all the disappointment and anger to one side and put the Old Firm game behind them.

The players and the management have had a couple of days to get over it now and the good thing is that they have a massive game here to look forward to.

You have to be strong in this game and even more so when you are at a club like Rangers where you are involved in defining matches week after week. You will win big games, but you will also lose big games and you need to be at it every time you step on the park.

I have been in that situation and it is difficult to get a result like the final out of your heads, especially when you have played as well as Rangers did and you know you should have won the game.

It is not often that teams will outplay Celtic like that so that is the positive that Steven Gerrard can take and Rangers now need to replicate that performance on what is a huge night for the club.

The manager can’t treat every player the same in a situation like this when you are trying to lift somebody. Some guys need an arm around the shoulder to get them going and others need a kick up the backside.

There are certain ways to go about it and the manager and the staff will have had chats individually and collectively with the players over the last couple of days.

But it is the players that need to pick themselves up and you look at the experienced ones - the likes of Steven Davis, Ryan Jack and Jermain Defoe - to come to the fore.

The team look more like a unit these days and I know they will come together and help each other through what will have been a very difficult few days for everyone inside the Hummel Training Centre.

Everyone has to be in the right frame of mind come kick-off against Young Boys and that is where the experienced players can come into their own behind the scenes.

You have to go around certain people and say ‘what happened on Sunday happened and there is nothing we can do about it now’.

Rangers were the better side, they created so many chances. But Fraser Forster was the man of the match and we lost the game.

That can’t happen again. You can’t dominate games as much as that and play as well as Rangers did and be left with nothing to show for it.

It will have been a mixture of the manager, his backroom staff and the experienced players themselves that will have had a big role this week.

They need to get into people’s heads, get them back in the right frame of mind and get everyone fully focused on what will be a difficult 90 minutes against Young Boys this evening.

This is a big test for the players to come back from that disappointment. A lot of them wouldn’t have had the feeling of losing a cup final before so don’t really know how hard it hits you until the whistle goes and you have been beaten.

They will certainly know now but it is gone and it can’t be changed so you can’t allow yourself to let one result, albeit a big one, affect you going forward.

There is still a Premiership to be won, the Scottish Cup campaign has yet to start and, first and foremost, they have to finish the job in the Europe League this evening.

All the players love playing in Europe but their mentality has to be right for this one and they have to go back out and play as well as they did against Celtic. The important bit, of course, will be putting the ball in the net this time.

The manager will have been trying to raise the spirits and take the positives from the final and he will be telling the players that they didn’t let themselves down. What he would have asked for, he got in terms of the shape, the commitment, the bravery.

He will demand that again at Ibrox and if Rangers can qualify for the last 32 that would give them a real lift heading into a hard game at Motherwell as the games keep coming thick and fast.

You can’t be looking ahead to that one just now, though. Young Boys is the only game that matters right now.

So it is up to the players to put in the same performance as they did on Sunday but find that finishing touch in the final third to ensure that all their hard work, all their good work, doesn’t go to waste for a second time in a few days.

Rangers know all about Young Boys and what threat they pose after we lost the game over there earlier in the campaign so nobody will be treating them lightly second time around.

This one is all about Rangers, though. If the players react right, they could achieve something special at Ibrox.