There were moments last season when it was hard for Rangers supporters to see what all the fuss was about with the Champions League and times when it felt like the competition was more hassle than it was worth.

Rangers had waited so long to return to that stage and invested so much time, money and effort in the endeavour. In the end, it was all for nothing and not all it was cracked up to be.

The financial benefits of reaching the group stages were talked up and then played down. On the park, the gulf between Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side and their three opponents – Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax – was even greater than anyone could have feared or imagined.

Those six fixtures brought only pain rather than points. Just months after the euphoria on the road to Seville, the Champions League saw Rangers come crashing back down to earth in a continental sense.

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It was a reminder of where the club and the team stood at a European level. Indeed, it served to reinforce why the Europa League is a far more enjoyable competition for Rangers and sides from leagues such as ours as the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to widen and skew the landscape of the game.

All of that will go out the window at Ibrox on Tuesday, August 8, however. As Michael Beale’s new-look side stride out of the tunnel and into the theatre under the floodlights, the harsh memories of last term will be enveloped by the aspirational thoughts of what could unfold this time around.

The path to the group stages of the Champions League is a notoriously treacherous one to navigate. Beale now has an idea of what the first obstacle in his way will look like, at least, following the draw for the second qualifying round in Nyon on Monday morning.

Rangers Review: Steven Davis of Rangers in action with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Liverpool FC and Rangers FC at Anfield

A tie against KRC Genk or Servette will pose its own challenge for Rangers. It is one that is far from insurmountable, though, and there should be every confidence at Ibrox that a place in the play-off round can be secured over the first week of European action.

“The opportunity to play in that competition is the optimal level for the players, it is the competition that everyone wants to get to in football, to play in the Champions League,” Beale said.

“We have done very well in Europe in the last few years, certainly in the Europa League, from where we came from in terms of 2018, for example.

“Last year to qualify for the Champions League, as a follower of the club from the outside in that moment, was a fantastic achievement. It didn’t go the way that anyone wanted but this year is another opportunity.

“And, as I say, no one will like to come to Ibrox, we don’t think. We know it is going to be tough to qualify again.”

Rangers were seeded alongside the likes of PSV Eindhoven, Marseille and Braga in the League Path of the third round draw. Sturm Graz or Serbian outfit TSC were potentially tricky opponents, while the prospect of a meeting with the winners of the tie between Dnipro-1 and Panathinaikos potentially presented its own difficulties.

In terms of travel and opposition, Rangers have to be satisfied with their lot. The opening 90 minutes at Ibrox offers Beale’s side a chance to take a stranglehold in the tie before the first trip of the term ahead of the return fixture the following week.

Rangers Review: Teddy Teuma of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round first Leg match between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and Glasgow Rangers

In all likelihood, it will be to Belgium that Rangers will be heading. If they do, their meeting with Union Saint-Gilloise last season will act as a reminder of the potential pitfalls that await.

Rangers could have found themselves out of the Champions League after just 90 minutes following a wretched night in Leuven. A week later, a rousing comeback salvaged the tie and Van Bronckhorst’s side would, of course, go on to make history with that famous triumph in Eindhoven.

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The fortunes of Rangers and their Belgian counterparts would vary in the months that followed. Both would miss out on title glory, but USG came significantly closer to the silverware than the side that Beale inherited from Van Bronckhorst and failed to lead to Hampden success.

A dramatic finale to the Jupiler Pro League saw Antwerp snatch the title in the closing seconds of the season. Genk finished the first stage of the campaign ahead of USG on goal difference and they were again level after the play-offs as Antwerp took the league flag by a single point.

As a result, Genk now find themselves in the second qualifying round rather than just one tie from the group stages. It is one that they are expected to progress from, though, and it would be a surprise if Servette go on to become the side that stand between Beale’s side and the play-offs.

Rangers Review: Dante Vanzeir of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise scores his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round first Leg match between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and Glasgow Rangers

Their place at this stage of the competition was earned courtesy of a second-place finish in the Swiss Super League. A tally of 58 points was enough to pip Lugano to the Champions League spot but never enough to challenge a Young Boys side that were inspired by former Ibrox striker Cedric Itten.

The draw may not have offered Rangers a definitive path to the play-off round but it will give Beale a chance to fully assess the opposition and the Ibrox boss will put the opportunity to good use as he casts his eye over Genk and Servette in the next week.

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By the time the whistle blows on the European campaign, Rangers will have already kicked off their Premiership title bid. The friendlies with OIympiakos tomorrow evening and Hoffenheim on Saturday are Beale’s final preparatory fixtures before the trip to Kilmarnock on the opening day of the domestic campaign.

In terms of priorities, there is no question what takes precedence for Rangers this term. The Premiership title is the non-negotiable for a manager that has been backed in the transfer market and a side that must deliver silverware during their first months together.

The Champions League can bring transformative wealth and experiences that cannot be bought. Yet it can also undermine the bread and butter of the domestic campaign and Rangers must ensure that the same mistakes are not made this time around should they go all the way and tick the first box of the season by securing group stage football.

Rangers Review: Ryan Jack of Rangers disappointed during the UEFA Champions League match between Ajax v Rangers at the Johan Cruijff Arena

That first term back amongst the big boys may have left a sour taste in the mouth for many supporters. Yet it should also inspire those players who have a shot at redemption and those who have signed up for their first crack at the competition as part of Beale’s rebuilt Rangers.

Time will tell what they are able to do together in a domestic sense. When it comes to Europe, Beale will find out sooner rather than later just where his side are and what they can look to achieve during his first full campaign in the dugout.

Rangers can dare to dream in the Champions League once again. The nightmare has now been forgotten and must not be repeated at Ibrox.