Gerrard’s men endured a spectacular second half of last season’s meltdown to give Celtic a 13-point championship lead in mid-March and, ultimately, nine in a row.
The Old Firm derby victories at the end of the year in both Gerrard’s campaigns in charge have proven to be false dawn when it comes to title momentum.
With the Celtic holy grail of “The Ten” in play, the Rangers have set a fierce early pace – and Smith feels they’re serious this time around.
The former Gers boss was very impressed to see Gerrard lead the Gers with an 11-point advantage after just 15 matches.
Neil Lennon’s men have two games in hand. But Smith believes the Rangers now appear capable of tackling the task and winning a first top-flight championship since he and Ally McCoist claimed three straight wins in 2011.
Smith said: “The results are good, everything is fine. If you watch them now, there is a more confident air in the team.
“But the most important thing in football, which is really the challenge from a Rangers point of view, is the challenge to keep it going until the end.
“They are still facing this challenge – especially against a club as good as Celtic in recent years.
“And Steven will accept that because he’s been through it at a very high level as a player, so he knows that better than anyone.
“But the Rangers players now look like they’re up for the challenge this season – and that’s the gist. One of the things they have to deal with is what has happened to them before.
“Once they face that and come out the other side, they have a chance to win. ”
Rangers certainly weren’t scared of last Sunday’s opportunity, confidently dismissing Aberdeen 4-0 at Ibrox 24 hours after Celtic left more points at Easter Road.
They conceded goals to only Hibernian (twice) and Motherwell with 13 wins and two draws.
But Smith is confident that Gerrard and his staff won’t be fooled by the split back to second place just yet.
Because the Rangers must respect Celtic and their previous experience of collecting results that matter on the way to the major trophies.
Smith explained: “It’s easy for everyone to turn around and say Celtic are 11 points behind.
“But I have no doubt that Steven will consider them to be FIVE points ahead.
“It’s not an insult to any of the other teams in Scotland. It’s just the reality that over the years Celtic have an “X” winning record of matches and championships.
“Celtic have handled the pressure over these years and Rangers should say they have.
“So I would consider it myself, from a managerial point of view, as five. I would say: “Yes, we did very well, we are five points ahead and we have to keep going. ”
“And that’s the way, I’m sure, they’re going to watch this.” So your team continues to do what they did to get you there.
“You won’t know if it’s 11 points, five points or whatever, you’ll have to take the challenge of trying to win every game. The signs are there that they are doing this. “