IT wasn’t so much the content of Gareth McAuley’s stooshie-causing interview earlier this week that provided the biggest double-take, but more the fact that he played for Rangers at all. A quick scan of the record books shows that yes, indeed he did. Ten times in fact, between November 2018 and January of last year. There you go.

On further scanning of the memory banks, I do indeed vaguely recall him being wheeled out for the odd interview. And if memory serves, he was a pleasant enough chap, the sort of extremely experienced footballer who was adept enough with the media to say plenty of words without really saying anything much of note at all.

So, on reflection, it was a bit of a surprise to see his withering assessment of Celtic’s entitlement to celebrate their ninth title in a row, proclaiming the triumph to be ‘tainted and hollow’, and one that would forever be accompanied by an adjacent asterisk, owing to the fact they were ‘handed the title’.

You can almost make a case for his final point there if he had been referencing the collapse of his old team after the winter break for the second season in a row. Don’t forget, they lost to bottom side Hearts, drew at home with Aberdeen, lost yet again at Kilmarnock, drew at St Johnstone and lost to eleventh-placed Hamilton at Ibrox to turn the title race into a Celtic procession by the time of the shutdown. Celtic, by contrast, cranked out nine wins and a draw on league duty in the same period.

Alas, he wasn’t referencing the failings of Rangers at all. Instead, his interview with the Sunday Life newspaper came across as the sort of transparent attempt to curry favour with the Rangers support that you sometimes hear from former players, many of whom do very nicely indeed out of their association with their old club once their own playing careers have come to an end. Perhaps he is angling for a trip to Dubai for the next 'Legends' bender, erm, seven-a-side tournament. Who knows?

The whole thing was dressed up in mock sympathy for the Celtic players and manager Neil Lennon, with McAuley saying how sorry he felt for them that their hard work wouldn’t be properly recognised with all the sincerity of Boris Johnson expressing regret that you feel Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham was against the spirit of the lockdown.

His argument though has more holes in it than the Ibrox defence he was briefly a part of.

Celtic assistant John Kennedy was quick to brush off the comments during the week, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t the worst thing someone has said in Scottish football, well, even this week.

The reason it has probably made as many headlines and indeed inspired this column (other than the desperation for something other than league reconstruction to talk about) is that most of us have already heard this sort of stuff from Rangers-supporting mates on the same group chats where they were pillorying Steven Gerrard and his players for chucking the league. Almost ceaselessly, in fact, from the moment that David Moyo slipped the ball under Allan McGregor in early March until football was placed into cold storage.

Here was our very own Chris Jack’s assessment of the atmosphere of resignation at Ibrox on that famous evening for Accies; “The outpouring of anger, of despair, laid bare the feelings of a crowd that have had enough of this season, had enough of some of those that wear their jersey.

“The gap to Celtic at the top of the Premiership now stands at 13 points. There is nothing unlucky about it for Rangers.

“As the small band of Hamilton fans celebrated a famous victory – earned thanks to David Moyo’s second half strike – the Rangers support vented their fury. Those that stayed until the bitter end did so only to make their feelings clear.”

And his final summation? “The final whistle put Ibrox out of its misery and gave supporters a chance to make their feelings clear. It should ring in the ears for quite some time.

“Come the end of the campaign, many will never hear it again as Rangers and Gerrard prepare for a defining summer in so many respects. The end is nigh, and time will tell for who.”

It doesn’t exactly sound as though belief was coursing through either the Rangers players or the supporters that an incredible turnaround in form and an unbeaten march towards the title was on the cards, does it? But no, we are to now believe that this Rangers side were on the brink of the mother of all comebacks, and that by the final day a helicopter could have been zooming about Scotland again like it was the end of Goodfellas.

The Rangers fans saying this, I suspect, don't truly believe it. They will no doubt revel in it though in boozers the length and breadth of the country in the same way that their opposite numbers like to talk about Sevco and zombies and all that. All good, clean fun, I suppose.

As it happens though, the record books won’t show an asterisk beside this title win, nor will the medals given out to the Celtic players be tarnished. As a fellow professional who had a fine career in his own right, I’m sure McAuley wouldn’t want anyone else making such statements about his own medal haul…