RANGERS 4 FALKIRK 0 Scorers: Bardsley (16); Prso (28); Boyd (67pen); Buffel (77)
RANGERS honoured the great certainty of their past as they prepared to embark on a voyage of discovery that will offer a window to their future.
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Bill Struth's defining management of the club spanned 34 trophy-laden years and was formally recognised on a day of tribute which culminated in the official renaming of the Main Stand at Ibrox a half-century after his death.
The important timeframe for Paul Le Guen is, in comparison, a flicker of the eye. Yet he will learn much over the coming two weeks about what his debut season in charge could realistically offer.
Thursday's UEFA Cup first leg against Molde in Norway begins a taxing sequence of four away matches, which also includes trips to Celtic and Hibernian in the Bank of Scotland Premierleague and a CIS Insurance Cup tangle with Dunfermline.
If a phoney war has been waged so far, it is at an end. Hostilities are about to begin in earnest.
This canter past a flaccid Falkirk side sparked with fitful flashes of impressive football, and saw Barry Ferguson play his first 45 minutes of the season, but Le Guen recognises the different dimension of the test that awaits. "I'm looking forward to it, but we have four away games in row and that will be difficult, " said the former Lyon manager. "I am aware we must be ready and play better than we did in this game."
On his return after five months of recovery from ankle and heel injuries, Ferguson created both a goal and some anxiety. His sharp through ball led to Darren Barr fouling Kris Boyd for a penalty converted by the striker, but the Rangers captain also appeared to fall awkwardly near full-time. Checks on his condition will be made but Le Guen was not overly worried with Molde in mind.
Ferguson adds a dependable dimension of quality to midfield, although the Frenchman would have been satisfied by the efforts of his two compatriots in that department on Saturday. Jeremy Clement earned the sponsors' man-of-the-match award after another display of spidery aggression, yet Brahim Hemdani was equally impressive in his calm direction of play, setting up a goal for Dado Prso with a rare thrust forward.
This central base, usually two-man but increased to three with Ferguson's half-time introduction, is key to the functioning of Le Guen's system. Finding the right balance may not be as obvious as simply dropping Hemdani and he now has the option of considering a 4-3-3 formation, one he has used previously in France.
Such tinkerings would, though, be irrelevant if Rangers' back four continued to exhibit the flimsiness of their early season performances. Falkirk offered a pitiful level of threat, despite starting with three up front, but Karl Svensson still managed at least three solid handlings of one-on-one situations. The young Swede seems to be emerging from his sorry start to the season at just the right time, especially with Sasa Papac ineligible for Rangers' UEFA Cup campaign.
Filip Sebo took up the mantle of most debatable Le Guen signing. The GBP1.8m arrival from Austria Vienna should perhaps set up a support group with Kenny Miller to ponder the split personalities the Old Firm rivals display between club and international football. Sebo has scored five times for Slovakia since becoming a Rangers player but missed a snip to break his Ibrox duck that left the stadium wincing. With three minutes remaining, a cross from fellow substitute Thomas Buffel allowed him a clear strike from six yards. The ball, though, seemed to come off his right heel and arrowed wide at an embarrassing angle.
Perfect finishes were plentiful elsewhere. Phil Bardsley proved he had been paying attention to the free-kick masters of Old Trafford by whipping a fantastic effort into the net from 25 yards for the first.
Prso doubled the advantage with a placed side-foot before Boyd smashed his seventh of the season from the penalty spot. Barr, having earlier been booked for lawnmowering Chris Burke's legs, was very fortunate not to be sent off by Mike McCurry, the referee.
Buffel's contribution was the best of the lot as he drifted infield from the left wing to curl an opportune reminder of his talent into the top corner of Scott Higgins' net.
John Hughes, the Falkirk manager, said a miserable afternoon had been compounded by his touchline ban. One can imagine language of which Mr Struth would not approve being muttered in his stand.
"I did feel helpless up in the directors' box, " said Hughes. "It's not the same. Football is about is being with your boys on the front, being right in there with them."