It was not a flawless display, but the lack of any discontent was a form of progress in itself. This Scottish Communities League Cup tie turned out to have a restorative effect on a team that has been chastened by some of its form in the third division, since passage to the next round was achieved with the minimum of fuss.
Ally McCoist must have hoped that the anger had not wholly dissipated. Some of his players clashed following the meek draw with Berwick Rangers, and that kind of self-rebuke can revive a manager's faith in his players. They are, essentially, demanding the same standards of themselves as he would. The team was stung by the performance more than the result, and this was an opportunity to atone.
"I was low on Sunday, but this performance was 100 times better," said McCoist. "It wasn't brilliant, we can pass it better, but the most pleasing thing for me was the way we won the ball back."
A reaction had been provoked, but Falkirk did not intend to be bystanders. They performed with their usual crispness and poise, but there was also a ambition. When David Weatherston stole across the area to meet a cross, his flicked shot bounced off the outside of the upright. Only eight minutes had been played and the opportunity prompted indignation among the home fans.
Rangers are still a team in transition, with the awkward moments and raggedness that entails. Sebastien Faure was developed into a centre-back while at Lyon but was deployed as a holding midfielder last night. The task was to operate in the spaces Craig Sibbald, Falkirk's talented young playmaker, takes up, but there was the occasional loose pass and moments of rashness that drew him out of position.
The flaws were understandable, and Faure was capable enough to stride upfield and lash in a shot that Michael McGovern had to tip over. The Frenchman's inclusion also allowed Lee McCulloch to move up to centre-forward. McCulloch has become so adaptable that shifting his position no longer seems like improvisation, and he was a more reliable presence than the lacklustre Fran Sandaza.
There is also a bullishness to McCulloch, and he rose to meet Ian Black's corner with a header that McGovern could not keep out of his net. The striker had already missed an easier chance, when Dean Shiels played him through but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, he shot wide. McCoist, with the lament of a prolific striker, mimed the act of directing the ball into the net on the touchline.
McCoist had further cause for discomfort when Emilson Cribari and Carlos Bocanegra were intermittently careless at the back. The Brazilian, in particular, looks distracted at times, but Falkirk's only other chance – Blair Alston's shot from close range – was saved by Neil Alexander.
There was less consternation on this occasion, since the hosts had already doubled their lead. Shiels, playing in an advanced midfield role, had the perception and delicacy of touch to bisect the Falkirk defence and play in Andrew Little, who was galloping upfield on a counter attack. The forward took one touch before dispatching a shot beyond McGovern.
The scoreline was comfortable for Rangers, even if there continued to be moments of alarm. They tended to be individual errors, with Faure and Emilson particularly culpable. A third goal, though, had taken the edge off any grumbling from the stand. McCulloch had shown initiative in steering his shot on target from a difficult angle, but a mix up between Chris Smith, the Falkirk defender, and McGovern had left the goalkeeper out of position.
Falkirk were never demoralised, but the introduction of Barrie McKay seemed a deliberate ploy. His pace and quick feet introduced an element of unpredictability to Rangers' play, and one burst infield from the right took out two Falkirk players before a series of short passes ended with Little tamely dragging a shot wide.
"We lost goals when we had our best moments in the game," said Steven Pressley, the Falkirk manager. "That was maybe a bit of naivety, but the players gave me every ounce. We'll continue to strive to improve and stay true to our principles."