Ally McCoist believes it will take Rangers another "two or three years" to become a dominant force in Scotland.
Rangers, promoted last season, lie a point behind leaders Celtic having played a game more ahead of Saturday's first Old Firm game of the campaign.
"Rangers are OK at the moment," said McCoist, who led them to two promotions between 2011 and 2014.
"The building process is still quietly in operation. I think it is still going to be two or three years."
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McCoist was manager when the Govan club entered administration and then liquidation in 2012 before re-emerging in the bottom tier of Scottish football.
"I was never of the opinion that Rangers were going to come in and set the place on fire and win the league by some considerable distance," he said of the side now managed by Mark Warburton.
"What we are seeing from Rangers at this moment is what I expected it to be.
"There will be games where things don't go their way. Obviously the standard of opposition is better than it has been in the last few years, so they are finding their feet.
"There has been some good performances, one or two average performances."
McCloist acknowledged that fans of the Ibrox club will be demanding early success.
"I know what Rangers fans and Celtic fans are like," he said.
"As fanatical as they are in their support of the team, they are not the most patient and some of them perhaps are not the most realistic.
"Rangers and, indeed, Celtic have improvement in them, particularly Rangers, if they want to challenge for the title and cups on a regular basis and get back on to the European scene."
McCoist believes Rangers can take encouragement from last season's Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic, albeit in a penalty shootout.
"Celtic will go into the game strong favourites, but they went into the last game strong favourites and didn't win," said the former Scotland striker.
"Rangers played exceptionally well.
"I thought Celtic had good chances to score, but I thought Rangers were far and away the better footballing team that day and they must take heart from that because they passed the ball as well as I have seen them pass it in a long time and they will be looking for a similar performance.
"But the game being at Celtic Park will be a big difference.
"The home support will be in the vast majority and hopefully the Rangers players will handle that OK."