RANGERS can rewrite the record books at Ibrox this season. Kevin Thomson just hopes history doesn't repeat itself.

The former Light Blues midfielder was part of Walter Smith's squad that was so near yet so far in 2008 as their memorable march to Manchester ultimately cost them the SPL title at the end of a long and controversial campaign.

The League Cup was won in March and the Scottish Cup lifted in May, but a marathon run on the continent caught up with Rangers and it was Celtic who hoisted the league flag as the schedule took its toll on a group who put everything into a heroic season.

As supporters look ahead to the final weeks of this term, they could be forgiven for feeling a sense of fear amid the obvious excitement. Once again, domestic silverware is on the line at the same time as European glory.

Victory over Celtic on Sunday has set up a Scottish Cup final with Hearts. The Premiership may prove to be beyond the champions, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst can dare to dream ahead of the Europa League semi-final with RB Leipzig next week.

The games have been gruelling but Thomson only has praise and respect for Van Bronckhorst's side after seeing them dig deep and emerge victorious as they followed up an extra time win over Braga with the thrilling two-hour triumph at Hampden.

“It was unbelievable," Thomson said after a Scott Arfield strike and Carl Starfelt own goal clinched a semi-final win. "Rangers actually looked the fitter team.

“Some people think if you have more time it’s the perfect scenario. But it just shows if you bite down hard on the gum shield then anything is possible.

“The effort to go 120 minutes in the Europa League quarter-final and then do it again in the Scottish Cup against your arch rivals was outstanding. The players and the staff deserve a huge amount of credit.

“You ask any Celtic player if they’d like to be in the semi-final of a European competition. I’m pretty sure they would.

"Listen, it’s tough. We sampled it in 2008 when our success in Europe was ultimately our downfall and we didn’t get what we wanted. Ideally you want to win them all but I wouldn’t change it.

“The fitness staff, nutritionists, all the folk behind the scenes deserve credit. But it’s okay having these things, the players need to put it in to play.

“The manager got his tactics spot on. You look at the way he nullified guys like Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic.

“Rogic in particular, is as good as anyone in the country and I think he’s Celtic’s best player. He’s a great talent and wonderful with the ball.

“But when you have guys like John Lundstram in there, and Calvin Bassey at left centre-back who could step up through the line, then it allowed others to impose themselves in the game."

Rangers went into a defining double-header against Braga and Celtic with questions to answer and criticism mounting following the derby defeat that has left them trailing in the title race.

The deficit to Ange Postecoglou's side looks too great to overcome as Rangers prepare to return to Premiership action at Motherwell on Saturday afternoon.

But Thomson - who won five major honours during his Ibrox career - knows the champions won't consider themselves conquered whilst there is still time and hope in the top flight.

“It’s not done yet," Thomson said. "Look, the harsh reality is Celtic are in a really strong position.

"They have done very well domestically and they are the team to beat with five games to go.

“They have a six point lead and you could argue the goal difference is worth another point.

“But there’s still an Old Firm game to come and all of a sudden these fives games are a lot harder.

“You are not playing the teams in the bottom six, or sides with not much to play for apart from pride.

“They will be up against teams with a lot to play for, with things like Europe up for grabs.

“It certainly ain’t over. Rangers won’t give up until it’s mathematically over.

“You never know. It happened to us when we got pegged back when we were six or seven points ahead with five or six games to go.

“I think Celtic won eight or nine on the bounce to win the league, so it can be done.

“The hard thing for Rangers is they are running out of games. You have to give Celtic and Ange credit for where they are.

“You might not expect to hear that from a former Rangers player but they have done well to be where they are.

“It also shows how well Rangers did at Hampden coming back from the recent defeats to Celtic and the European efforts."

The coming days will determine Rangers' fate and shape their silverware ambitions as they gear up for the Leipzig test and the first post-split fixtures at Fir Park and Parkhead.

The Scottish Cup remains their most realistic chance of a trophy this term. While three are on the table, Van Bronckhorst's side must aim for every medal possible.

Thomson said: “Rangers have a chance of silverware this season no matter what. That’s a big deal because although it’s nice to see the fans enjoying big days in the cup and in Europe, the reality is you want to have silverware at the end to reward those efforts.

“That’s how you measure success. It would be a damp squib to come away from this season without a trophy but Rangers have given themselves a chance in all competitions.

“They will keep fighting in the league but they have a great opportunity now to lift the Scottish Cup.

“And as for Europe, they have done incredibly well to go this far and you can’t count them out going further again, which would be an incredible achievement. It could end up an unbelievable season.”