Ross County striker Billy Mckay remembers when Rangers really didn’t seem much like Rangers at all.
The Northern Ireland international was part of the top-flight Caley Thistle team that humiliated Ally McCoist’s basement league Rangers side 3-0 at Ibrox in October 2012.
That Caley Jags’ League Cup victory highlighted just how much Rangers had been filleted by financial woes and administration.
Mckay struck the winner the last time he faced Rangers – a glorious 89th-minute overhead kick sinking Graeme Murty’s Gers side 2-1 in Inverness.
The 31-year-old, though, is these days thriving with the Staggies – and knows the Ibrox club has moved on too.
The very fact that Rangers were a pale shadow of their former selves for years brings a freshness to the fixture for County, who faced Rangers in only two of the Staggies’ previous seven top-flight seasons.
Tonight’s Dingwall clash is only the sixth Rangers visit since the teams first crossed swords in the Scottish Cup back in 1966.
Mckay said: “I think there is an excitement and freshness to it. When I was at Inverness, I managed to play them a couple of times in the cup, but it’s not the same as playing a Rangers team back in the Premiership.
“They are back to near enough their best now and challenging for the title.
“It is going to be a real buzz among the lads and around the stadium, playing Rangers again.
“I was fortunate enough to play against them in the Premiership in my last season at Inverness.
“Hopefully, we can enjoy another positive result against them.”
County are certainly forewarned about what might hit them tonight, given their recent Celtic Park experience.
The 6-0 thrashing was placed in perspective by Aberdeen’s four-goal first- half rout at the weekend, but County’s management were appalled at the meek resistance shown.
County looked to be heading for another defeat at Easter Road on Saturday but sprang back from 2-0 down with a spirited revival sealing a 2-2 draw.
Mckay said: “The lads were buzzing after the game. It was just what we needed after the previous week against Celtic.
“Even after the bad result down at Celtic, we stuck together –there was no witch-hunt.
“We don’t get too high when we’re winning and we don’t get too down when we’re losing. We try to stay grounded and level. We know Rangers is going to be a very difficult one for us.
“It just shows the character we’ve got among the lads. At 2-0 down, we’re never beaten.”
County’s atmospheric little ground will be packed out tonight and Mckay feels they can thrive under the television lights.
He said: “We’ve had it a few times and I saw it as a Caley Thistle player coming here.
“Last season when we were going for the league, I well remember the day we snatched the last-minute equaliser against Dundee United – the fans were unbelievable that day.
“Hopefully we can get them going.”