TIMES have changed but the rivalry remains the same.
The years have passed yet the opportunity hasn’t diminished.
The Rangers team that will stride out at Hampden on Sunday will never be able to match the achievements of the side that Richard Gough captained with distinction.
But the nine-in-a-row legend knows they still have a chance to secure their own place in the Ibrox history books if they can emerge victorious on derby day.
Like so many of his team-mates during that trophy-laden Light Blue era, the Old Firm arena brought out the best in Gough.
It is a stage upon which few members of Pedro Caixinha’s players have performed and one that even fewer have shone on. There would be no better time to make their mark than the Scottish Cup semi-final.
The consequences of a Rangers win are hugely significant for both sides of the city this weekend. It would move the Gers to within 90 minutes of the trophy, and end Celtic’s dreams of clinching the Treble.
For Gough, the lure of silverware and the chance to give something back to the Ibrox crowd should be all the motivation that Caixinha’s side need at the National Stadium.
“At the end of the day, times have changed over the years,” Gough told SportTimes.
“The quality of player that I was fortunate enough to play with isn’t there at the moment.
“But you get judged as a Rangers player when you play against your biggest rivals. It is hard and there is no hiding place.
“When you have the games at Hampden, I played in a few semi-finals and a few finals as well, you have to stand up to be counted. The pressure is enormous.
“Then we have got the home game in the league as well. Celtic are going through an unbelievable season and are unbeaten so far.
“Now, if I was in that dressing room there would be no better or sweeter moment than to stop that.
“That is the way it is and what makes the two clubs such huge rivals. That is what makes Glasgow.
“People all over the world know Rangers and know the Old Firm. When you play for either of the clubs, these are the games you get judged on and the games you get remembered by.
“People always say to me ‘I remember that goal Goughie, I was there when you scored at Ibrox’.
“We are going back 30 years but people remember it like it was yesterday. It is a game that you have to make your mark on.
“If you score, you will be remembered forever more. That is the case for both sides and that is what makes it such a great game to play in.”
There are many aspects of the Old Firm occasion that haven’t changed over the years but Rangers head into the latest derby duel in a far different position than they did during Gough’s time at Ibrox.
As the Light Blues dominated under the guidance of Graeme Souness and then Walter Smith, silverware was in short supply across the city.
These days, the roles have been reversed. Rangers haven’t won a major honour for six years, while Celtic have half-a-dozen titles under their belt.
Some Hoops fans have already started dreaming of a decade of dominance. Rangers’ focus must be on stopping a magnificent seven at Parkhead.
Gough said: “That is what it is all about. If you are in that Rangers dressing room now and not thinking about stopping them then you shouldn’t be in the Rangers dressing room. That is what rivalry is.
“Nobody thought that we could equal their record of nine-in-a-row but it happened.
“Nobody thought it would happen again, but now with Rangers having been out of the league for five years there is a possibility that it could happen.
“It is up to Rangers to stop that. It is up to the players to go out and stop that now that they are in the division.
“We haven’t had such a great season this season but we still have a chance of second and we are in a semi-final.
“Next year is another campaign so hopefully we will be a bit better and more battle hardened and we will take it from there.”
Twelve months on from their semi-final shoot-out success over Celtic, Rangers will return to Hampden again more in hope than expectation.
Supporters anticipated that victory that afternoon would be the foundations upon which a strong Premiership challenge would be built but the Ibrox squad have underperformed and underachieved in the top flight.
Rangers still have several strides to take on the road to recovery. With Caixinha now in place, they have to be on the right track.
Gough said: “It is small steps but the club is going forward and, other than the last couple of weeks, most of the chat recently has been about the football.
“I did what I thought was the right thing at the time and the club is much more stable than it was for the previous four years. We don’t want to go back to what went on then.
“Obviously a change of manager doesn’t help this season but that happens in football.
“Pedro looks like he could be great for the Press because he is very quotable and it is an exciting time for Rangers.
“He will have his own views coming in and some of the things he has done already are exciting. He is the manager so you have to give him his chance and let him get on with it and he will live or die by his decisions.
“The club as a whole is in a much better place than it was four years ago. It is small steps.
“It is much, much better than it was and I am sure everyone can see that. The supporters have been fantastic throughout it all and they deserve to see a winning Rangers team again.”