OK, granted we've already had a couple of cup matches but many will argue league business is our bread and butter and the season doesn't really start until we kick of the SP, sorry, SFL. And, when one considers the stress of the last few months, the fact we're in Division 3 doesn't really matter; we're back and we mean business!
Now, I could spend the next 700 words or so talking about stuff we're all probably bored of. Tax investigations, dual contracts, TUPE regulations and mainstream media mischief-making have all been prevalent topics but the most obvious aspect of our cup games so far is that the fans have been delighted to get away from all that. The football has started again so let's concentrate on that.
In that respect, there is still plenty to talk about in this match preview. Over twenty players have left the club over the summer and it's likely a few more will before the window closes later this month. However, given the window will be closed a bit longer for our club specifically, the manager has been busy signing some new players and I think most fans have been happy with the quality so far. Let's hope the board are well aware of the difference between appeasing fan expectations with that our our rather different fiscal requirements.
Moving onto the team for Saturday's SFL3 curtain raiser (which is live on Sky at 12.45pm), it's likely to have a paradoxically unfamiliar familiar look to it. That sounds silly but although many of the players are new to the Rangers first XI, Ally McCoist has used mainly the same players for the two cup games we've played so far.
The defence is well known to us though. Neil Alexander has served the club well over the last few years and will be eager to stake his claim to be our regular 'keeper as we begin the journey back to the SPL. Meanwhile in front of him, the likes of Broadfoot, Goian and Bocanegra all featured fairly regularly last season; even if all three are not here come the end of August. The capture of experienced Brazilian defender Emilson Cribari seems to point towards that. Certainly a back three supported by two wing backs appears to be the manager's formation of choice at the moment.
Into midfield and this is where some of the names may be less recognisable. Certainly the likes of Lewis MacLeod and Barrie McKay have crept into the first team pretty much unnoticed of late and both have shown up well so far - even if the understandable inconsistency and lightweight nature of their play remains their most obvious challenge ahead. Fortunately, they're supported by the experienced figures of Ian Black (the former Hearts and Caley Thistle midfielder), Lee Wallace and Northern Ireland internationalist Andy Little. These lads will be key players for Rangers this season and Wallace in particular looks very sharp already.
Up front is where McCoist has concentrated his efforts in the transfer market so far and our signings there have been good ones. Dean Shiels may not be an out and out striker but, as he showed against East Fife, he'll fill the gap left by the departed Steven Naismith by finding the gaps in between midfield and attack. This leaves Lee McCulloch, Francisco Sandaza and Kevin Kyle to fight it out to lead the line. The former has already banged in three goals in the early cup games so he'll be first choice at the moment.
For Saturday's match, I expect the same team which started against East Fife on Tuesday. Emilson, Sandaza and Kyle will want to feature but their lack of match sharpness may hinder their chances for the time being. However, make no mistake; we have a long and tiring season ahead so every player in our rather stream-lined squad will get their chance at some point. And as the ever-loyal Rangers support has impressively shown so far, we'll be there to support them.
Probable team (3-5-2):