The message was the same on Sunday as it was on day one. The situation, in so many ways, is very different. That is the Philippe Clement effect.

The deficit to Celtic that Clement had to address on his first day in office has not just been whittled away, it has been overturned. Four months after he inherited challengers that lurched between hopeful and hopeless, the Belgian is now in charge of potential champions. It has been something of a whirlwind. As they say, though, time flies when you are having fun.

Clement sat in the Blue Room with the faces of legendary Ibrox managers staring down at him from above. Each mural represents the history and standards of a club, an institution. He may not have been aware of the stories behind Struth or Souness, Wallace or Walter, but Clement now stands just 12 Premiership fixtures away from joining them as a title winner. Another couple could, whisper it, deliver a treble.

That prospect will, of course, not even be countenanced by the man himself at this stage. Like those in whose illustrious footsteps he is seeking to follow, he knows what it takes to get over the line and is fully cognisant of what his side must do in the coming weeks. Now is not the time to get ahead of yourself and Rangers - as a team and a support - must keep calm and carry on.

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The most revered Rangers bosses have a trait that is difficult to define, they are statesmen and figureheads rather than just coaches and tacticians. When you are in their presence or watch them operate – with players, with punters and with the Press – you just get a feeling about what they are made of. The way in which they speak, the respect that they command, is telling and their principles as managers are matched by their beliefs as men. It is almost like an X Factor, an attribute that cannot be measured or marked and there has long been a sense that Clement ticks that particular box.

The ‘story’ has taken Rangers so far but there will be no fairy tale ending if his players deviate from the mantra and methodology that has brought them so far.  It is a journey that has been embarked on at remarkable speed. Whatever expectations Clement arrived in Glasgow with, he has seen his players surpass all of them to date. The League Cup triumph and Europa League progression were proof that Rangers were on the right track but it is their Premiership form that has been the catalyst for Clement as his standing amongst supporters has continued on an upward trajectory from that opening victory over Hibernian. They wanted a reason to believe, and Clement has given them that and then some.

Rangers Review: Philippe Clement

He has never indulged in title talk or attempted to play mind games. The ‘one game at a time’ stance has been consistent, not because he doesn’t want to make promises that he cannot keep, but because history shows him that such a blueprint will deliver success. The fact that Clement had won a Pro League title in Belgium helped him get an interview at Ibrox, but the way in which he followed up that achievement with Genk with successive crowns at Club Brugge convinced the hierarchy that he was the right fit for the job. The man himself has never doubted it.

“It is not an advantage, of course, to be seven points behind,” Clement said as that first press conference naturally turned to the state of play in the Premiership. “That is clear. I think one thing, the major thing, for the next weeks and maybe months, we will see, is that we need to be focused on ourselves. For me, a season is like a marathon and it is no use to look at this guy that is running in front of you all the time and then try to chase it with one big sprint and then not have the legs to do the marathon and to kill yourself.

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"No, you need to focus on yourself, on your pace, that it is faster than before, better than before and that you can do all the marathon. It is not about the next two, three games, it is about a lot of games this season in a lot of competitions. We need to look at all those things, we need to focus on ourselves, not on other teams and to make our story better and better and better through the season. Then you get results in the end. Always.”

The four pillars – technical, tactical, physical and mental – that Clement spoke of back in October have all been addressed and marginal gains have resulted in considerable progress, both individually and collectively. The single most profound factor in the Ibrox transformation is the manager, though. He will direct the praise and plaudits to his staff and his players, but it is Clement who has been the driving force, the spark, the inspiration. He insisted he was not a magician. He has conjured up something special, exorcising the demons of the Michael Beale era with a series of tricks of the trade that have brought a side and a support back to life.

This is a squad that is still flawed in many aspects. Yet it is one that Clement has somehow moulded into a team that has dropped just five points under his guidance and that now sits two clear of Celtic at the top of the table following their victory over St Johnstone. In some regards, that was perhaps the easy bit this term. The positions in the marathon have switched as the finishing line comes into view.

“We are not looking at that,” Clement said on Sunday when asked if the next challenge for his side was to remain top of the Premiership. “Our challenge is to be better every week better, better every month. Not every game you can be better - that's impossible - but we try to do that, to develop as individuals, as a team, to become better and adapt to circumstances. My best time as a player was in a team was when we played two/three years together, because you learn out of experiences. Good ones, bad ones - you become better because you grow. That's what we are doing as a team, to get experience.

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"Maybe if we wouldn't have had the Dumbarton game in the cup, it would have been more difficult today. So you learn out of every experience and the guys are really at the moment like a sponge, getting all the information inside and doing the right things with it. This is what I want. This is what I am going to be really tough on as well. I want to see an ambitious team that wants to become better and better. We're not looking at others, just ourselves.”

This title would not be the most historic or the most dramatic of the 56 for Rangers. It would, however, be one of the most unlikely should it arrive and it would earn Clement a unique place in the Ibrox annuls and the hearts of supporters. After so many false dawns and broken promises, both before, during and after that glorious campaign under Steven Gerrard, the fact that fans can now dare to dream at all is an achievement in itself for Clement.

That is not enough for Rangers and won’t be enough for Clement. A club whose very foundations are trophies has a manager who strives for silverware, who has spoken about winning it all. Every component will have played a part if the dream becomes a reality but it is Clement who will deserve and who will receive the majority of the adulation. If the prize is placed in the Trophy Room, he will have earned his spot in the Blue Room.