The incredible financial collapse of Rangers in 2012 saw the Ibrox club liquidated, with a Rangers ‘newco’ voted by SFL chairmen to start the new season in the bottom tier.
Manager Ally McCoist estimated that around £30million of talent gushed out of Govan that summer as players exercised their right, under employment legislation, not to transfer their contracts to Charles Green’s company.
Just six players turned up for the first day of pre-season training and, 12 months on from playing in the Champions League qualifiers against Malmo, Rangers took their first steps on what became known as The Journey.
The Gers finally clinched title number 55 after Celtic’s 0-0 draw against Celtic, with Steven Gerrard celebrating the first trophy of his managerial career.
Here, Sportsmail’s BRIAN MARJORIBANKS charts the long, winding — and often bumpy — road from the old Third Division back to Rangers being crowned Scottish champions for the first time since 2011.
Rangers were playing Malmo in Europe in 2011 – 12 months later they were in the fourth tier
For Rangers, after the nightmare came a wake-up call.
On August 11, 2012, the Ibrox side’s climb back up the leagues began with a last-minute equaliser from Andy Little to rescue a 2-2 draw at Peterhead.
‘If the boys at any time thought this was going to be a cake walk, they know where they are now,’ warned McCoist.
For their first match at Ibrox, a 5-1 win over East Stirlingshire, 49,118 fans showed up — a world record crowd for a fourth-tier fixture.
Andy Little wheels away to celebrate his late leveller against Peterhead on the opening day
But a disappointing campaign in knockout competitions saw big-spending Rangers eliminated from the Challenge Cup on penalties at home to Queen of the South, beaten 3-0 at home by Inverness Caley Thistle in the League Cup and 3-0 by Dundee United at Tannadice in the Scottish Cup.
The Third Division title was won at a canter by 24 points but performances were often poor and Rangers suffered the indignity of home defeats to Annan Athletic and Peterhead as well as a 1-0 loss at Stirling Albion, who were managerless as boss Greig McDonald was away getting married.
The campaign was summed up as Rangers were booed off the park following a goalless draw at Montrose, only to be crowned champions on the bus ride home courtesy of Elgin City’s win over Queens Park.
POSITION: Champions (Division Three).
Rangers won the Third Division title at a canter, but performances were often lacking quality
Rangers kicked off their campaign in the newly-renamed League One in enthusiastic fashion, with midfielder Nicky Law insisting a quadruple was up for grabs.
But that dream proved short-lived after Forfar knocked McCoist’s side out of the League Cup in August at Station Park, 2-1 after extra time.
There was controversy as midfielder Ian Black was suspended for 10 matches for gambling on football, including three bets against his own team.
Rangers did reach the Challenge Cup final but lost 1-0 in extra-time to Raith Rovers at Easter Road.
Rangers players react to their Ramsdens Cup Final defeat to Raith Rovers at Easter Road
There was disappointment, too, in the Scottish Cup as, despite being handed home advantage as Hampden prepared to host the Commonwealth Games, Rangers lost 3-1 against Dundee United at Ibrox.
It was the team’s first loss since Forfar but the priority was promotion and the title was won by March when captain Lee McCulloch scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 Ibrox win over Airdrie in front of 41,343 fans.
In an unbeaten season, Rangers won 33 of 36 matches, amassing 102 points and scoring 106 goals.
They finished 39 points above nearest challengers Dunfermline Athletic as stage two of The Journey was completed.
POSITION: Champions (League One).
Lee McCulloch celebrates with Ally McCoist after securing the League One title at Ibrox
The task of winning the Championship was made even harder by the relegation the previous season of both Hearts and Hibs.
Early defeats by each Edinburgh giant had McCoist under pressure amid gathering off-field problems.
A 3-2 loss to a hugely depleted Alloa Athletic side in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, after being 2-0 up, saw the Rangers manager asked if he would quit. The club legend eventually tendered his resignation later that month and was placed on gardening leave.
Ally McCoist tendered his resignation during the season after a disappointing run of results
With Kenny McDowell reluctantly in charge, a highly-anticipated first Old Firm clash since 2012 brought an easy 2-0 win for Celtic in the semi-final of the League Cup, a result that saw the team branded the worst in Ibrox history by club legend Richard Gough.
The following weekend, Raith Rovers knocked Rangers out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 victory at Ibrox.
Against the bitter backdrop of boardroom battles and protests off the pitch, Dave King and his allies finally won control of the club in March, 2015.
But Rangers finished 24 points off the pace and with Stuart McCall in as interim boss, they lost 6-1 on aggregate to Motherwell in the Premiership play-off final.
A troubled season ended with Bilel Mohsni handed a seven-game ban for a violent altercation with Lee Erwin in angry scenes after the final whistle at Fir Park.
POSITION: Third (Championship).
Bilel Mohsni received a seven-match ban for his actions during the Championship play-off
Former Brentford boss Mark Warburton, assisted by ex Ibrox captain David Weir, was brought in to manage the club and Rangers took the Championship by storm with an attractive brand of attacking football.
A 3-1 League Cup loss to St Johnstone was a disappointment but the Ibrox side finally got their hands on the Challenge Cup by beating Peterhead 4-0 at Hampden.
In the Scottish Cup, there was delicious revenge as Rangers drew 2-2 with Celtic in the semi-final before winning on penalties to reach the final. That victory would come at a cost, however.
Mark Warburton was named manager as Rangers looked to seal promotion to the Premiership
After clinching the Championship, nine points ahead of Falkirk and Hibs, Rangers’ season ended on a low with a 3-2 Scottish Cup final loss to the Easter Road side.
There were ugly scenes at the final whistle as supporters invaded the pitch after Hibs won the competition for the first time since 1902.
But Rangers were at least finally back in the top flight and Warburton took his side to a pre-season training camp in South Carolina as he plotted how to bridge the gap with Celtic over a full season.
POSITION: Champions (Championship).
Rangers won the title by nine points as Mark Warburton delivered them back to the top flight
Rangers kicked off the new season with a 1-1 draw at home to Hamilton Accies after an Ibrox display stated the club was hoping to win its 55th title triumph.
However, the aftermath of that Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Rangers at Hampden the previous season had seen Celtic fork out to hire Brendan Rodgers.
Under the former Liverpool and Swansea boss, the Parkhead club improved dramatically from the Ronny Deila era.
They knocked their Old Firm rivals out of both cups at the semi-final stage and dished out 5-1 league wins at both Celtic Park and Ibrox.
Warburton’s star signing Joey Barton arrived to a big fanfare but was axed after 133 disappointing days following a training ground bust-up with his manager and Andy Halliday.
Warburton followed Barton out the door in February, axed as rampant Celtic went on to end the season as unbeaten treble winners.
Rangers suffered two 5-1 defeats at the hand of rivals Celtic during their first season back
Pedro Caixinha argues with fans in Luxembourg
Under new boss Pedro Caixinha, Rangers suffered arguably the most embarrassing result in their history when they were knocked out of the Europa League by Progres Niederkorn; a team from Luxembourg who had never previously won a European match.
The Portuguese boss encapsulated the catastrophe of his reign by being photgraphed clashing with angry fans while standing in a bush outside the Stade Josy Barthel.
The ludicrous Caixinha was finally sacked after a 2-0 League Cup semi-final loss to Motherwell in October.
A 4-0 Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final defeat in April and a 5-0 defeat at Parkhead rounded off another miserable season as Aberdeen again finished second.
In Europe, Rangers went from Progres to tangible progress under new manager Steven Gerrard.
The Ibrox side reached the Europa League group stage and inflicted a first Old Firm defeat in 13 matches on Brendan Rodgers in December.
But defeats in the Betfred Cup and Scottish Cup to Aberdeen were a huge disappointment and, as results tailed off after the winter break, Rangers ultimately finished nine points behind treble-winning Celtic and 11 ahead of Kilmarnock and the Dons.
Defeat in both the League and FA Cup to Aberdeen were big disappointments in 2018-19
The Ibrox side may have lost the 2019 League Cup final 1-0 to Celtic but they played their rivals off the park and the tide looked to be turning when Rangers won at Parkhead for the first time in nine years.
At that stage, Gerrard’s side were just two points behind with a game in hand. But another collapse after the winter break saw them 13 points off the pace when the league was called early due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Europe, Rangers kept progressing, reaching the last 16 of the Europa League. But the followed impressive home-and-away wins over Braga by being knocked out of the Scottish Cup by soon-to-be-relegated Hearts.
Rangers player’s celebrate Ryan Kent’s opener after sealing victory at Parkhead in December
It had been evident for some time that Rangers were gaining ground on their rivals and, as Gerrard’s team developed a ruthless and relentless streak, Celtic simply crumbled.
The Ibrox side’s only defeat to date this season — domestically or in Europe, where Rangers once again reached the last 16 of the Europa League — was a shock 3-2 exit to St Mirren in the Betfred Cup in December in Paisley.
In the 10 years since wrapping up the 2010-11 title at Rugby Park, Rangers have been to hell and back, via various Scottish football outposts.
But in being crowned Scottish Premiership champions in 2020-21, the Ibrox side have finally reached Journey’s End.
Steven Gerrard has finally delivered The Journey’s End after sealing Rangers’ 55th league title