Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall were seated in the shelter, Neil Alexander was ubiquitous between the sticks and Lee McCulloch was the top scorer in all competitions.
A cusp of young stars – including Kai Naismith, Fraser Aird and Barrie McKay – promised to create an exciting new era.
While the goals are now entrusted to Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe, at the time it was Andy Little, Kevin Kyle … and a certain Francisco Sandaza.
So much has happened since at Ibrox, and in fact in Scottish football, that it seems like more than seven years have passed since “Tommy from Glasgow” pretended to be an agent and ended his life. Rangers career.
Controversy surrounding Spanish striker means he’s now seen as a laughing stock, an embodiment of a chaotic and tumultuous period among Rangers now dubbed “the years of jokes” by the club’s snipers and his own fans .
Once the great hope, the goal specialist who would lay off his new team in the divisions and again to the glory of the SPL; he was released before the end of his first season, scoring only twice.
The damage to his reputation was rapid and immediate. As part of a recruiting campaign that brought Ian Black, Dean Shiels and David Templeton to nine major recruits, he came to the end of a prolific season with St Johnstone in the top flight.
But from day one, it was quite clear that the once-sharp hitman who had scored 17 goals in 34 appearances for the Saints was no longer made for life at Ibrox.
No one knew what had happened to him; if his level of physical fitness had dropped dramatically or his hunger had just disappeared with higher wages and less competition; but in the once impressive square of Sandaza was a heavy, heavy shadow of what it had been.
Ally McCoist supported his winner at Peterhead in January – a goal that ended a five-month drought – to be the strike that would get him operational after a slow start.
The first of many? Not enough. It would be his last.
His race had been run with a team spell that coincided with McCoist’s side becoming familiar with the third division. After dismal draws with Peterhead, Berwick and Annan in the first six games, the injury limited Sandaza to a single start between October and January; they won 11 of the 12 during that period and took control of the division.
Aside from a brief awakening in January, the singer with flexible hair quickly became surplus.
Its release may not have seemed too far away, but the way it went was more bizarre than anyone could have imagined.
Finding himself on the receiving end of a hoax from a scammer pretending to be a fictional agent Jack McGonagle, who would later be plastered on the Internet, Sandaza revealed that he would be willing to walk away from the Rangers if that happened .
He gave explicit details of what he earned at Ibrox – £ 4,500 the first year, which would increase to £ 5,500 the second, £ 6,500 the third and £ 10,000 the last of his four-year contract, by which time the club should be back in the elite.
He continued, “The money is good. The club is amazing – it’s a very, very big club – and the supporters are amazing. “
“Obviously, if I got a better league and more money, I would go.
“I played my whole life to get a good contract for myself and my family, which is why I signed here. I wanted a contract that resolved my life.
“I did not sign up for the level. I signed up for the money and because it’s a good club. “
Within two weeks of the cursed call, the Rangers broke ties; and thus ended Sandaza’s career in Scottish football.
And Sandaza’s tongue turned out to be the only thing that was consistent during his doom at Govan. His claim that he had been “advised” not to bless Ibrox was forcibly rejected by the club at the time.
But has life after the Rangers reaped any fruits?
Now 35, after trips to Qatar, Japan and China, he continues to lead a nomadic existence at the 13th club of his career.
Back in his native Spain, he leads the line – when he is in good shape – for the La Liga 2 AD Alcorcon club, incidentally alongside Scot Jack Harper, formerly highly rated.
He put Scottish football behind him, but you can be sure that somewhere deep in his mind there is an “what if” that may never go away.