Rangers' progress this season will be measured by their points tally, says former striker Kenny Miller.
The Ibrox side were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Aberdeen on Tuesday, having lost to the Dons in this season's League Cup.
Aberdeen have also finished above Rangers in the past two Scottish Premiership campaigns.
"What there can't be is a hangover from the defeat and the league season fizzles out," Miller, 39, said.
"Second spot and the points total that they get this season will signal whether there's been progress.
"I don't think you can measure your progress based on what Celtic does or what Aberdeen does. It's got to be what you do. The points that are available, they could get 86 points if they win every game.
"They've got to try and get as many points as possible. If they can bridge the gap that way and they can look at the end of the season that they've got an extra eight, nine points, whatever it is, that's progress."
Aberdeen ended last season with 73 points to Rangers' 70. With nine games to go, Steven Gerrard's side sit on 59 - eight clear of Derek McInnes' side and eight behind reigning champions Celtic.
Dundee forward Miller, who has won league titles with Celtic and Rangers, says "it's not impossible" for Gerrard's men to overturn the leaders' advantage.
"You never know," Miller told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. "The only thing against it with Rangers and it has been over the last few years is stringing this run of winning results together.
"I think this season is it four maximum? It's not enough. You need to be stringing that seven, eight, nine-game winning run to have an opportunity to win the league."
'Big summer for Gerrard' - analysis
Partick Thistle and former Celtic striker Scott McDonald
It's a big, big summer coming up. Steven Gerrard's got to get his recruitment right. It's vitally important.
What's important for Celtic is they keep certain players but for Rangers, they're going to have to bring some quality through that door and they're looking for someone to unlock doors because that's where they've really struggled in games - to break teams down when they've really needed to in big games and that's the difference between them and Celtic at the moment.