PLAYED three, won three, and now just three more remain. Rangers are top of the table in the Betfred Cup but this was another step towards what they hope will be pole position in the Premiership.

After their run out against Charleston Battery and victory over Motherwell, Mark Warburton’s side returned to Ibrox and continued the sequence as Annan were brushed aside. The win was more than deserved, although the 2-0 score line didn’t reflect how comfortable Rangers were as they eased to a second Group F success.

It was a useful exercise in many respects for Warburton, although it certainly wasn’t the kind of test they will encounter in the top flight in a couple of weeks.

This was game three of Rangers’ pre-season schedule and just a hat-trick – at East Stirlingshire on Friday, against Stranraer on Monday and then at home to Burnley next weekend – are on the schedule before the Premiership opener against Hamilton Accies on Saturday, August 6.

It was a productive evening as Warburton’s summer signings got their first taste of Ibrox as Rangers players and the Gers boss was able to give more of his squad some much-needed time on the pitch. The victory was, of course, imperative and welcomed, and also never in doubt.

Most of the men in the blue shirts may have been different from last season but the pattern of play was familiar to those that returned to the Ibrox stands for the first time this season.

An impressive crowd of more than 31,000 greeted Warburton’s side as they strolled out the tunnel once again and they would have gone home happy, and enthusiastic, after 90 minutes in which the gulf between Premiership and League Two was certainly evident.

Like was so often the case last season, the hosts had to be patient in their build-up as they pressed and probed at a packed defensive line in search of an opening.

This encounter will undoubtedly help Warburton’s side in terms of their sharpness as much as their fitness but the Gers showed no signs of being overly rusty, despite only having two games under their belt since returning to training last month.

Warburton handed starts to Matt Gilks, Clint Hill, Lee Hodson, Josh Windass and Niko Kranjcar and it was the latter two that really caught the eye and gave the home crowd plenty of encouragement for what they could bring to the team this term.

The opposition may have been limited, both in terms of their ability and their attacking intentions, but Kranjcar showed his class with an array of neat turns and flicks in tight positions and dictated the play from the middle of the park.

It was a more all action showing from Windass, the former Accrington Stanley man driving at the Annan defence from central and wide left positions as Rangers flowed forward time after time.

Chances arrived in quick succession but it took until 32 minutes for Warburton’s side to break the deadlock and get the lead that their dominance deserved.

Waghorn had seen a lob over keeper Blair Currie cleared at the back post and Hodson a header saved by the former Rangers kid before Barrie McKay and Lee Wallace combined down the left flank and a flick from the Ibrox skipper was deflected just wide.

McKay then took matters into his own hands as he fired Rangers into the lead in spectacular style, his rifled shot leaving Currie helpless as the ball flew into the net. Rangers were off and running at Ibrox.

The next round of applause from the Light Blue legions was to greet another summer recruit as Joey Barton stepped out of the dugout and sprinted towards the Copland Road stand. He wouldn’t have to wait long before he got into the action, the midfielder taking over from Kranjcar at the same time as Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller replaced Windass and McKay respectively.

By then, Rangers should have been out of sight and had the points wrapped up but Wallace saw two efforts blocked in quick succession before Kranjcar was denied the goal that would have topped off a fine performance as Currie saved well to his right.

A shine on the score line was all that was missing for Rangers now as they looked to see the game out. The second goal finally arrived after 74 minutes, and it did so from a familiar source.

After combining with James Tavernier so productively last term, and at Fir Park on Saturday, Waghorn this time linked up with the man that deputised at right-back at Ibrox, the striker collecting a through ball from Hodson and finishing neatly inside the near post.

There was still time for Rangers to push for a third goal but it never materialised for Warburton’s side as they had to settle for what they had.

It was a job well done. Now it is on to the next one.