The memories will never leave the mind. The passing of time has not eased the pain or erased the sense of what might have been but the so near yet so far continues to motivate Rangers.

It was seen as the one and only shot at glory, a chance that could never come around for a second time. The next 90 minutes will determine if Rangers have more Europa League moments to cherish or another reason to squirm and shiver at the very thought or mention of Seville.

The stakes are not quite as high this time around in the frying pan of Spain. There is no silverware on the line against Real Betis but progression from Group C is up for grabs and Rangers have left themselves with it all to do as a result of their abject efforts against Aris Limassol. If you take it as granted that the Cypriots will be beaten by Sparta Prague, then Rangers will stride out knowing that only a win will do at the Estadio Benito Villamarín.

The return to Seville – albeit to the green and white half on this occasion - will provoke a concoction of feelings. The wonderous highs on the road to the final last May continue to raise smiles and goosebumps but each comes with the knowledge that the ultimate achievement evaded Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players.

“That is true, that is true. It is mixed emotions,” Borna Barisic, a starter in the defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, said when the subject is raised. “I will never forget that final. That is the biggest thing now that I miss. I really wanted that. But it is past, it was a good journey. Seville is a nice city, so we need to go there and try and qualify in the Europa.”

That aim of qualification for the knockout rounds was one that Van Bronckhorst inherited when he replaced Steven Gerrard as manager. Two years on, it is Philippe Clement that must reach that goal after his appointment as Michael Beale’s successor at Ibrox.

Nobody could have foreseen what Rangers would go on to accomplish after they emerged from a section that also included Lyon, Sparta Prague and Brondby. One by one, the rounds were taken care of as supporters dared to dream and the players saw the halo of immortality at the end of the tunnel.

In the end, darkness enveloped Rangers. The loss to Eintracht was a crushing blow for Van Bronckhorst’s side and the times since have been difficult on and off the park, at home and abroad, for everyone at Ibrox. Now, Rangers face another defining few days and the prospect of a cup final on their return from Seville.

The Hampden meeting with Aberdeen will need to wait for now. All the focus is on the European ambitions as Clement’s side attempt to take the next step this season. Many of them will need no reminding about what is possible once you set off on that road.

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“That is true,” Barisic said when asked about the hurt of the final defeat motivating Rangers in this competition. “We want to go in the Europa League, that is obvious that we want to go through. We have secured now that after Christmas we are in Europe. The Conference League is good also but we want to go in the Europa League and we will give everything to go through in this group.

“For some players, yes it will be a once-in-a-career achievement,” Barisic said. “For some it is not. I would like that it is the first time and to have that this season, everyone would. I think now, or in a few years, you will figure out how hard it is to come to a final and how good that run was. We beat some really top, top teams and played some really good football. That is what I will never forget.”

The wins over Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade, Braga and, in particular, RB Leipzig were moments of elation for Rangers. Barisic has since put himself through the agony of the final by watching clips of the action in search of individual improvements and personal lessons.

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The Croatian was clearly pained when talking about the manner of the defeat, admitting that losing on penalties ‘hurts more’. When the conversation turns to the previous round, his face lights up.

That night against Leipzig will go down in Ibrox folklore. It is naturally tinged with regret given what followed but it can still be appreciated for the spine-tingling occasion that it was.

“Oh my God,” Barisic said with a smile. “It was magical, it was magical. You know and you remember it. The atmosphere against Leipzig in the game at home was the best ever, I think. We celebrated for ten minutes [on the pitch] after that. My family was there and I was so happy. I will never forget that in my life, I swear.”

That victory seems like such a long time ago. Van Bronckhorst was sacked just months later after a dreadful Champions League campaign and the win over Betis at Ibrox was not enough to keep Beale in a job as the Englishman found himself out of his depth in the opening weeks of the campaign.

The defeat in Limassol came in the aftermath of Beale’s departure and the draw at home on matchday five stands as the worst result of Clement’s tenure. Rangers, therefore, have points to prove as well as points to earn against Manuel Pellegrini’s side on Thursday evening.

A win would certainly not make amends for their previous experiences in Andalusia. It would, though, be a statement in its own right as Rangers seek to keep their Europa League dreams alive.

“We wanted to win against Aris,” Barisic said. “Fair play to Aris, they are not a bad team and you can’t say that about a team from Cyprus. Could we have won? Yes. We could have had a better ball in the final third and had more chances. In Seville, we will play against Betis and still everything is on.

“Listen, they have real quality players. They are a good team but they are also vulnerable. We know from the previous game what their weaknesses are and what their strengths are and we will try to exploit their weaknesses and win the game.”