If a week in politics is a long time, it’s an eternity in football. When Rangers arrived in Paisley to play St Mirren, fans were still reeling from a dip in their side’s form and there was more anxiety than normal about a fairly routine game.

The fixture had come after a season-ending injury to Alfredo Morelos and two defeats against Celtic and Braga. A significant amount of fans were still feeling a mix of hurt, disappointment, anger and despair. The Old Firm defeat at Ibrox was especially hard to take. Losing to your biggest rivals in your backyard is bad enough but when it also virtually hands your title to them, that’s a huge blow.

Fans began seriously questioning their team’s bottle for the first time since Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over from Steven Gerrard. Social media was fizzing with fans fearing a rerun of the Liverpool legend’s tenure when his side had acquired a bad habit of frittering away points after the winter break.

Yes, there had been the title that stopped Celtic’s ‘ten’ and good runs in Europe, but no other trophies were bagged. That simply wasn’t good enough.

Now, it was said, this team were reverting to type with another wasteful winter in the league as points were needlessly tossed away. Too many stars failed to shine when it mattered in seasons past. It was happening again. The players couldn’t be trusted. The team had to be broken up and a rebuild was badly needed.

Director of football Ross Wilson and the board were also in the firing line and pressure mounted on van Bronckhorst. The mood was grim among fans and the outlook bleak.

Just seven days later, everything had changed and the despair turned to euphoria.

St Mirren were easily disposed of thanks to a hat-trick from Kemar Roofe. Then two monumental games followed. A brilliant performance at Ibrox against Braga over 120 minutes put Rangers in the semi-final of the Europa League.

By Friday morning the mood was lifting rapidly as fans realised the scale of the achievement - among Europe’s elite again.

But there was still unease that another defeat from in-form Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday was possible.

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Incredibly, another superhuman effort from the players saw Rangers dominate as they out-ran, out-fought and out-gunned a side praised for their ‘go, go, go Ange-ball’ fitness levels.

To no one’s surprise the usual suspects savaged referee Bobby Madden, implying sinister forces were at work. Mainstream media outlets have an obligation not to stoke division by giving a platform to pundits making wild accusations but that story is for another day.

By any objective analysis the treble-chasing Parkhead side had taken second prize in a gripping slugfest that thundered from start to finish. The pundits’ criticism was merely a deflection, like Celtic’s goal, to hide their side’s defeat. The high-flying Hoops’ wings hadn’t just been clipped, they’d been ripped apart. This was, by far, their toughest game of the domestic campaign.

The Gers fans had been on a rollercoaster of emotions and emerged from it on an high with trust in the players restored. When you’re passionate about your club that’s just the way it is.

Now Rangers face eight, hopefully nine, matches to finish the season off. One final is in the bag against Hearts and another in Seville is possible if the team can overcome RB Leipzig in the Europa League.

To do that, the lessons from this tumultuous week could be crucial. The players found reserves of will and stamina that can only boost their confidence - when you emerge triumphant from an epic battle you are stronger for it. Their confidence must be soaring after finding another level to get the job done.

Those two games also ended any simmering debate about van Bronckhorst’s future at Ibrox. Exits from one or both of the cups would have been seen as a serious setback. There can be no doubt he will now be given the time and funds to strengthen next season - regardless of how this one ends.

He has shown enough for that to be a given.

It’s hard to gauge the Dutch manager’s personality as he rarely tells you more than he has to. He picks his words carefully and keeps everything simple. He’s certainly not one for over-elaborating. He’s always polite but circumspect. Underneath that facade he appears to have an inner steel and drive when under pressure but mostly he remains calm in the heat of battle. He seldom gives much away.

And while his players out-fought Celtic, it should be noted that he out-thought Ange Postecoglou, winning the tactical battle. Clearly, he learned much from their previous encounters - as he did against Braga. He’s said a couple of times that he absorbs more about a team from playing them than from watching videos. He prefers the up-close look and alters his approach accordingly - as evidenced by his success in the last two fixtures. It’s likely he’ll approach the first game at Leipzig conservatively, with a plan to keep the tie alive for the second leg at Ibrox after he’s had a chance to see the German team in the flesh. That strategy worked against Braga and he’s unlikely to change it.

It’s also clear the players like him. You don’t get towering performances from a team if they don’t respect and trust the manager.

If anything captured the spirit of the seven days perfectly, it was Calvin Bassey’s breathtaking run deep in extra time at Hampden to set up the winner.

A new benchmark was set over three thrilling games and if these standards are maintained then who knows what is possible as the season heads for an almighty finish?

What a difference a week makes.