RANGERS had to act as though affronted.
There had been a stinging reaction to the way the team lost so haplessly to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup last weekend, but radical changes to the starting line-up are not possible when the squad itself is so meagre.
It fell to the players to perform with an edge that reflected the manager's disgruntlement and that eventually delivered an emphatic scoreline.
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The sprightliness and intent of the home side was immediately apparent, although their efforts were initially futile. There was time, for instance, for the supporters to stand and applaud in the second and eighth minutes – in tribute to club legends Sandy Jardine and Paul Gascoigne, who are both fighting their own battles to regain full health – without interruption from any meaningful on-field incidents.
But the lacklustre mood didn't last long. Rangers sought to be bold, with David Templeton and Barrie McKay playing on the flanks and Dean Shiels combining with Andy Little up front. The latter partnership was promising, since they were both capable of swift and precise interchanges, although Shiels was less convincing in front of goal.
It will have irked Ally McCoist that the visitors were able to feel enthused at half-time because the score was still level. But Rangers had spurned a number of chances, so Queen's Park's optimism had to be tempered.
Although Shiels and Little were spurning chances, Neil Parry, the Queen's Park goalkeeper, showed some remarkable agility. He reacted brilliantly to stop Shiels' effort from close range, then leapt back to his feet to tip Templeton's effort from the rebound over the bar. That passage of play was preceded by Emilson Cribari hitting the post with a header.
At this point, McCoist would have feared another game in which his team failed to translate their superiority into goals.
His opposite number Gardner Speirs was proud of his side's first-half showing. "We gave ourselves a reasonable platform for the second half," he said. "The young players confirmed what we knew, that they have the temperament and the ability to come to a place like this and play."
McCoist deployed plenty of encouragement during the interval. The players still tended to be anxious in front of goal, but there was an inevitability to the eventual breakthrough. McKay had only been intermittently involved, but his run down the left was quick and purposeful.
He showed good awareness to look up and spot Ian Black's late surge into the penalty area. McKay delivered the ball into the midfielder's path and he steered a shot beyond Parry for his first Rangers goal.
"That was just what the doctor ordered," said McCoist. "It was important not to feel sorry for ourselves at half-time. We felt we were doing okay."
The element of relief was a boon to Rangers. They counter-attacked with a sense of freedom. McKay arrowed a cross-field pass to Templeton, who in turn fed Kyle Hutton.
The midfielder surged forward before passing the ball to Shiels, whose cross was converted by Little. It was the kind of composed move that a manager must relish, but there is still a fine balance between the competence and the negligence of this team.
Chris Hegarty, for instance, almost marred an impressive display at centre-back by being caught in possession of the ball. He redeemed himself with a smart tackle, but McCoist was so furious that he lost his footing as he moved into a better place to shout at the defender.
Yet moments later, Rangers scored a third when Lee Wallace cut the ball back to Shiels and the striker eventually found the target.
By the time Little added his second goal, with a curling shot, Rangers were contemplating the worth of this victory as a means to restore some confidence. "Andy fancies his chances up front," said McCoist. "And he led the line very well. We're delighted with the performance."