THE reminders about where Rangers have come from and where they must get to arrive with regularity these days.

Every European win conjures up painful memories of that night that in Luxembourg, while domestic victories that raise hopes of Premiership glory spark recollections of the dark days spent toiling in the lower leagues.

When they have gone through as much pain and suffering over the last eight years, it is only natural that supporters take the chance to pause and reflect on just what is happening at Ibrox and how they arrived here.

The bond between fan and club could easily have been broken at times but it is as strong as ever right now.

And the loyalty that Rangers fans showed throughout the most turbulent years in the club's long and illustrious history will be rewarded one day when the 55th league flag is flying over Ibrox.

It may arrive this season, it may not. That is football.

No club has a given right to league titles and anything Rangers win will certainly have been earned the hard way.

But it is undoubted that Rangers are firmly on the right track this term and victory against Benfica would only further emphasise that point, and raise expectations amongst a fanbase that are desperate for good times to return.

There is a different feeling around Steven Gerrard's side these days and a different mood amongst supporters. Who can blame them for enjoying their football, even in these difficult times, as much as they are?

No support has been through what the Ibrox crowd have and that next silverware success will be celebrated and cherished as much as any previous triumph.

The warnings from Gerrard and the messages from his players about not getting ahead of themselves should be taken on board and listened to carefully. The job is far from done and any complacency will be costly in what will be a historic campaign however it ultimately ends.

Rangers today are a very different proposition from the one that Gerrard inherited two-and-a-half years ago. It says it all that they can be disappointed with a draw in Lisbon and that they fancy their chances of beating the side guided by Jorge Jesus at the second time of asking.

This could turn out to be a special season for Rangers and one for long-suffering supporters to cherish.

The great shame of this term is that they are not around to enjoy it as the doors remain locked and they remain on the outside looking in as Gerrard's side produce the performances and results they have waited some time for.

That will be the case once again this evening. The visit of Benfica has the potential to be a special night for Gerrard and his players and the importance of European action cannot be understated to Rangers.

There will be no raucous Ibrox crowd to roar them on but an occasion that has all the ingredients apart from the most important one - the fans - could still live long in the memory.

Victory over the Portuguese giants would be right up there with the most significant results of Gerrard's tenure and could be rewarded with a place in the knockout rounds with two games to spare in Group D.

In a football sense, it would be a remarkable achievement for Gerrard's side. From a financial and reputational perspective, it is imperative for Rangers.

The accounts for RIFC plc that were released last Friday show that the Europa League was worth £20.7million, more than a third of a total revenue of just over £53million, to Rangers.

If ever supporters needed a gauge of how significant European income is to Rangers, it was there in black and white in the report to June 30, 2020.

“Europe is always important for a club like Rangers because of the history and the big European nights that have gone before for the supporters," Gerrard said on Wednesday as he looked ahead to Matchday Four at Ibrox.

"It's what they enjoy doing, watching their team in Europe, travelling near and far to follow their team. So from a football point of view there's always a responsibility and an expectation here as the Rangers manager to continue to do well, year on year.

“If that means we make more money or we go further in competitions and that helps from a financial point of view, then great. That is always the aim.

“But first and foremost it's about rewarding our fantastic support with trips around Europe to follow their team.

“The board and myself are on the same page and we're happy with where the team is at right now. But we both know there is still a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be."

This Rangers squad is one that has been funded by the Europa League as prize money and gate receipts have ensured there is transfer cash available for Gerrard to assemble what is the best group that Rangers have had in a decade.

If the gamble doesn't pay off, it could be the last throw of the dice for these players and the Ibrox board will surely have to look to balance the books next term.

That bridge can be crossed if required. The alternative, of course, is a title win that could be transformative in terms of the Old Firm power wrangle.

Victory tonight would be hugely significant for Gerrard and progression overall hugely beneficial for Rangers but in this season of all seasons it is clear what the ultimate aim is.

Fans are entitled the enjoy the rollercoaster ride for a change and it is up to Gerrard to ensure that another campaign doesn't come off the rails this term.

There is plenty for Rangers to look forward to in the coming days, weeks and months.

It will only be at the end of the season that they will be able to see just how far they have come.