IT has been a long summer for Andrew Little, and one that the Rangers rookie is likely to forget.
The 23-year-old was left in limbo as his Ibrox contract came to an end at the close of the season and given the off-field controversy the club have been embroiled in, his future was shrouded in mystery.
The Northern Irishman made a decent impact in the latter months of last season after Rangers had slipped into administration.
Having been troubled with persistent injury problems, he returned from a loan spell at Port Vale and was given a run of games between March and April last term.
The highlight for the player came when he scored in the 3-2 win over Celtic, a game that prevented Neil Lennon's side from clinching the league on the Ibrox turf.
Ally McCoist is believed to have told the striker at the end of last season that he wanted him to remain part of the plans at the club, but was in no position to offer him a deal because of the crisis at the club.
As the hours tick down now to the new campaign, Little is expected to be back at the club, while McCoist is also keen to land Craig Beattie, Ian Black and Dean Shiels.
And ex-Northern Ireland international and Sky Sports pundit Gerry Armstrong was not surprised at Little opting to stick by Rangers, despite the prospect of a long spell in the lower leagues.
"I think his heart is with the club and for that reason he will stay if the contract is put in front of him," he said.
"He scored a cracking goal in the Old Firm game last March and caught the eye with a number of decent displays.
"I know he toyed with playing at the back at some point in his career, but I think he has shown recently that he's better up front. It's a more natural position for him."
It has been a desperate summer for Rangers and in some ways it will simply be a relief for McCoist to get the focus back on to football, no matter what level.
There is a depth of anger about the punishment that has been dished out to the club and McCoist hinted at it in his statement last weekend, but, should they finally be granted a licence to play in the Irn-Bru Third Division, it will offer him some respite.
The Rangers manager has worn the angst of the past five months on his face, as he has cut a tense and stressed figure, but Armstrong expects there to be release when he is back in the dugout and out of the boardrooms.
"It is impossible for any manager to work under those conditions," he said.
"It is unimaginable what he will have gone through since the whole situation began.
"I feel for him because the pressure must have been intolerable at some points. It is really difficult to concentrate on building a team when you don't know if you are coming or going.
"I had spoken to him earlier in the year to suggest a few loan players that might have been suitable, but he was in no position to do anything."
Little is not the only one of Coisty's kids who will need to cut their teeth in the Third Division this season.
Other starlets including Barrie McKay and Lewis Macleod will be required to pick up the slack after an exodus of big names out of Ibrox.
And first-team coach Ian Durrant, who joined Rangers as a schoolboy and progressed through the ranks before being handed his senior debut by Jock Wallace at 17, believes the young bucks have what it takes to steady the Ibrox ship.
He said: "We've had to bring in young boys and fast track them, but they have come in and been great.
"Some got a taste for it last season like wee Barrie McKay, Lewis Macleod and they will be great additions to the first-team squad this year.
"Barrie got a couple of goals against Albion Rovers which will do his confidence no harm while Lewis slotted in alongside Lee McCulloch and Mo Edu so it's a great learning curve for him.
"He has been different class in our last two games along with Robbie Crawford. The three of them have completed a full pre-season with the first team and you can see they are getting stronger.
"It reminds me when I made my debut many years ago when Rangers were building the stadium and they never had the funds to buy players.
"If you want to be successful you have to take any opportunities you get."