AS FAR as Rangers’ European performances go, last night’s disaster in Leuven was right up there with some of the worst we’ve witnessed.

After what appeared to be a bright start, the Ibrox side simply looked like a shadow of the team that performed heroics last season in reaching the Europa League final.

What makes the display and result against Union Saint-Gilloise all the more galling is the fact this is an outfit who are nowhere near the level of quality of the likes of RB Leipzig, Braga, Red Star Belgrade or Borussia Dortmund.

What Karel Geraerts men are, though, are hard-working and well-drilled. They boasted the meanest defence in Belgium last season and we could see why last night as Rangers toiled and failed to muster any proper chances in front of goal.

Strikes from distance from James Sands, Malik Tillman and a Borna Barisic free kick were all that the Light Blues could manage. Simply not good enough.

It’s important to factor in that there are a number of new players settling into the side and this will ultimately take time but unfortunately due to a failure to win the title last term, time is not on Rangers’ side.

The Union players and fans celebrated the 2-0 victory as if they had won the Champions League, but who can blame them?

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They have come from obscurity to elite European football and last night was their first continental tie since a 2-0 aggregate defeat to Juventus in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup back in 1964. Being sat amongst the Union supporters in the press box, you get a true sense that this is a side living out a fairytale. Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst commented as such last night when he said: “We are playing against a good opponent.

“If you see their last two years it is like a fairytale and they are continuing their fairy tale.

“I want to be there with my players and the club competing for the Champions League group stage. that is our aim and what we want to overturn next week, but not the way we played today.”

If Rangers are to progress to the playoff round to face either PSV Eindhoven or AS Monaco they will need to overcome a two-goal deficit for the first time ever in European competition. They will also have to drastically improve their performance levels and it remains to be seen if they are able to do so in just six days’ time.

Historically, Rangers have struggled the season after performing well in European competition. Their last appearance in the UEFA Cup final in 2008 saw them dumped out by Kaunas at the first hurdle the following campaign while Levski Sofia sent Rangers packing in 1993 despite coming within a stone's throw away from reaching the Champions League final the season prior.

Will Union Saint-Gilloise become the latest name to be added to the unwanted list of Rangers' early-round conquerors?

It’s up to van Bronckhorst and this crop of players to address that but based on current evidence witnessed at both the Tony Macaroni Arena and the Den Dreef Stadion, it looks as if the Champions League will continue to remain a pipe dream.

This piece is an extract from today’s Rangers Insider newsletter, which is emailed out at 5pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Rangers Review team.

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