IT has often been said that form goes out the window when it comes to the Old Firm encounters.

But if Rangers are to emerge victorious at Ibrox on Sunday, they must reverse a trend that has earned them an unwanted place in the record books. Recent history has not been kind to the blue half of Glasgow.

The Gers have not beaten Celtic over 90 minutes in their last 11 attempts and the penalty shoot-out success at Hampden two seasons ago remains their only victory since the memorable 3-2 triumph on home soil in March 2012.

Read more: Graeme Murty would boost his chances of becoming Rangers boss with an Old Firm win, says Steven Thompson​

This time it could be different, however. This time, Rangers will stride onto the field with a sense of expectation rather than hope.

The Ibrox crowd have had to endure periods of green and white dominance before and many will remember the wretched run that saw the Light Blues lose seven games on the spin between April 2003 and November 2004.

After winning 2-1 at Hampden in the League Cup, Rangers would have to wait until goals from Dado Prso and Shota Arveladze clinched a win by the same scoreline and in the same competition at Ibrox the following year to belatedly taste Old Firm success.

Just a few days later, they would finally win in regulation time once again as Nacho Novo and Prso clinched a league victory at Ibrox on the day Alan Thompson and Chris Sutton saw red.

Striker Steven Thompson was part of Alex McLeish’s squad during that nightmare run and what turned out to be a dramatic campaign.

And he knows the current Ibrox crop will be determined to finally overcome Brendan Rodgers’ side and end their barren Old Firm form.

He told SportTimes: “It is obviously going to be a massive bugbear and, psychologically, to not have beaten your rivals for eight games and for Celtic to have completely dominated proceedings in Scottish football could be an issue. That is going to play on your mind and the Rangers players will be desperate for that to change.

“I’m not sure it was necessarily the right thing to say that they were all cheering when they drew Celtic in the cup. Do you want to play mind games with a team that are better than you? It is maybe reverse psychology.

Read more: Stuart McCall: Actions will speak louder than words for Rangers ahead of Old Firm clash

“Celtic are still favourites for the game and, more often than not, when questions are asked they, domestically, rise to the challenge.

“It is going to be intriguing. I would still have Celtic favourites to win the match but this is as close as Rangers have been.

“And I don’t think they can go into the game and change their approach in any way. Keep things as you have been doing.

“Don’t think because it is Celtic you play an extra defensive midfielder or do this or that.

“What has been getting them success is their attacking play and their entertaining football.

“So don’t change that just because Celtic are in town. Go and take it to Celtic. I think it could be a brilliant game.”

Like they did last season, Celtic recorded a clean sweep of Old Firm wins on their way to the top flight title during the 2003/04 campaign.

But the following term the back-to-back wins at Ibrox were the foundations upon which the Light Blues built as they won the league and cup double under McLeish’s guidance.

Read more: Graeme Murty backs Alfredo Morelos to recover from off-day against Falkirk ahead of Old Firm clash

Many Gers fans believe a victory this weekend could spark a late challenge for the Premiership crown, while it would also be a key moment for Murty ahead of the Scottish Cup semi-final clash next month.

Thompson said: “Obviously you can look at previous Old Firm games and Celtic have dominated – they have won six of the last eight and drawn two, both of which were at Celtic Park strangely enough – and that will give them a confidence this time around.

“I can remember feeling the pressure and everywhere you went you were reminded of it, there was no escape.

“This game won’t be season defining, but if Rangers lose then whatever small chance the supporters think they have of winning the league, and I don’t think there is a challenge, then that is over.

“I think you can almost approach the game like a cup tie. Rangers are in really good form so they will be hoping that the form does have a factor but it is like a one-off game.

“As much as Rangers have momentum, I don’t really think form comes into it. It is all about the day.

“Celtic have a stronger squad, have a better team, and have done for a number of years now. But this is the best Rangers have been since they have come back through the leagues and this is as close as they have been to be able to compete with Celtic.

Read more: Graeme Murty would boost his chances of becoming Rangers boss with an Old Firm win, says Steven Thompson​

“Yes, Rangers have form but the game is taken very much like a cup tie and it is its own entity.”

A run of nine wins in ten games has given Rangers a much-needed lift as they look to halt Celtic in their tracks and ensure there is no chance of going through another campaign without an Old Firm win to their credit.

Thompson scored in the final derby clash of the 2004/05 campaign as Celtic won 2-1 at Ibrox but it wasn’t enough to deny the Gers the title.

And the 39-year-old knows what it would mean to the Light Blue legions if Murty’s side could claim the spoils on Sunday.

He said: “Winning Old Firm games doesn’t win you the title, however you are made very aware from the supporters the importance of the game.

“To a Rangers supporter or a Celtic fan, they look forward to these games more than any other because of what it means. Going into each game, you are acutely aware of the pressures and the build-up is really intense.

“You can feel the scrutiny, feel the pressure and the game is almost a release from the build-up because there is so much hype.

“There is no doubt that it gets to you because every team that plays in a derby – not just Rangers and Celtic – wants to win because of the bragging rights and psychologically this must be the best that Rangers have felt for some time going into an Old Firm game.

“I think they will go into this game with optimism and belief. You can say all the right things in the lead up to a game, make all the right noises and try and convince yourself that you are going to win, but I do feel there is weight behind Rangers for the first time in a long time.”