AFTER a Scottish Cup win at Hampden, Rangers fans began the post-mortem on their team’s season.

Opinions were divided. A cup triumph and a Europa League Final was good but not great, said some, their mood soured by the title going to the wrong side of the city.

Feelings after the defeat in Seville were still raw. As Frankfurt scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out, Bears across the globe felt shock, despair, disbelief. Watching a dream die is gut-wrenching. A brilliant campaign ending on a brutal twist of fate is a heartbreaker. When you’re all in, it hurts even more and judgments are skewed. Healing takes time.

A couple of weeks on, with the initial pain subsiding, it’s time to look at the season objectively. The truth is that Rangers getting to a Europa League final wasn’t supposed to happen.

Scottish football is a pauper in financial terms - poor cousins only there to make up the numbers in European tournaments. All the serious money is poured into the big five countries - most of it into England. The Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was the fourth in five years with at least one English team. A decade ago Real Madrid and Barcelona topped the Football Money League. Today Barcelona’s finances are a mess and they’ve been replaced by Manchester City.

When England’s top teams last dominated in Europe, in 2007-08, Premier League clubs’ total revenues were £1billion higher than those of Spain’s La Liga. Today the gap is a whopping £2.4bn. This season the league got £3.1bn for TV rights, compared with La Liga’s £1.8bn. Next term La Liga’s package falls to £1.6bn, while the Premier League’s soars to £3.4bn.

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Chelsea’s sale to US investors and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund buying Newcastle means almost every club in the English top tier is owned by billionaires.

In the early 1990s, the European Cup was more cosmopolitan, with clubs from 13 countries reaching the semi-finals. In the past five years, three-quarters of semi-finalists came from just five regions - Paris, Madrid, Munich, London and the north-west of England.

Scottish football by contrast is surviving on scraps from the big boys’ table. That’s why Rangers shouldn’t have made it all the way to Seville. It wasn’t meant to be. It was, in essence, designed not to happen. That they did was a mighty feat which must be acknowledged.

And it’s not just one season of success in Europe. Over the last five years, Rangers are 10th in the Euro ranking points table above Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus. Much of the credit for that, it must be said, goes to former boss Steven Gerrard. It’s a remarkable run - and it now makes the Light Blues a respected force on the continent.

The only downside for fans was seeing the team ship needless points late on in domestic games which they utterly dominated. It wasn’t just Old Firm clashes that did the damage but wasteful draws caused by defensive howlers.

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However, history will treat this season kindly. As it should. Those thrilling Euro nights at Ibrox won’t drift from the memory anytime soon, if ever. The team left nothing on the park in the last month and showed superhuman levels of fitness in extra-time marathons as they got stronger while the opposition wilted.

Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his squad gave everything, and then some, for the jersey. By any yardstick, the campaign was an immersive ride from start to finish. It wasn’t perfect but nothing ever is - even for giants like Liverpool and Manchester City who also came up short.

Now, while the players chill on the beach, we’re left to wonder what the next term will bring. Getting the title back and another European run are obvious targets. After Connor Goldson dumbfounded everyone by signing a new deal it would be folly to guess what Ross Wilson and the manager are planning. It’s possible, as Gio hinted three weeks ago, that there won’t be a huge turnaround in the squad.

Whatever happens over the summer, and ensues until the next, will likely surprise, dumfound, frustrate and overjoy again. Whatever the emotion, whichever the competition, it will undoubtedly immerse us all.