When Philippe Clement walked into Rangers as manager last week, the electricity that normally accompanies a Blue|Room unveiling felt oddly missing. While the Belgian is just the 19th man to take the job, there can be little doubt the regularity that new faces have held the title in recent years has dulled the impact of epoch change.

Since the appointment of Mark Warburton just over eight years ago, Rangers have had six different managers in eight years. Only Steven Gerrard has lasted longer than two seasons and the interruption of Covid saved his bacon during a horrific spell of form that included a home defeat to Hamilton and a quarter-final Scottish Cup loss to Hearts in his second term.

Talking to Rangers fans, there was a general reluctance to get too enthused about even someone with as impressive a CV as Clement, a three time title winner in his home country. It was a case of twice bitten. After all, both Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Beale arrived with strong backing from the support having traversed the marble staircase before in times of success as a player and coach respectively.

Clement arrives with no such backstory and that's one of the aspects that make his arrival in Glasgow so interesting. How he will adapt to Rangers culture is as important as his credentials as a football thinker - and he's clearly a smart cookie given his engineering degree and excellent English. It was no surprise to see him emphasise winning over all else from the first moment of his arrival, saying: My short-term and long-term targets are always to win. I am about that. That is my life, it has always been my life."

While the club will want to see entertaining football that keeps the fans gripped, especially after the sedate spectacle of the season so far, all that really matters is three points. Rinse and repeat. As Rangers powerbrokers have found this season already, you can do lots of good things off the park but if such work isn't done in tandem with having a winning team you might as well have not bothered. Clement has been wise to grasp this most important of messages, something intrinsically tied to the DNA of his new club.

If he arrived as something of a mystery, it's one that's unravelled a touch now. The media has sat with him for six separate briefings across five days and we now have the evidence of 90 minutes of football to ponder. Face to face, he's been both warm and intense. Imprecisely worded questions are already drawing blunt answers and a stare that lets you know without words precisely what he's thinking. While Beale was a natural raconteur, who often exuded a boyish joy in just talking about the beautiful game, Clement is much more guarded. A couple of times already he's stated the answer to a probing question is not for public consumption. To use the parlance of a certain Mr Cantona, in an environment where every sardine that's thrown into the sea is gobbled up by hungry seagulls, you'd have to say it's probably a wise plan.

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But that's not to say he's been afraid to share insight or detail. He gave fascinating background into his assessment the current squad lacks the fitness he requires. While it's true to say such claims are a new manager cliché, it's rare for the reasoning behind said opinion to be put to the public in such detail. Clement insists a more individualised training methodology will challenge Rangers' fittest stars, pushing them to new heights, while preventing the weaker ones from breaking down. Time will tell if it works but there's no doubt that getting this squad injury free is the key to unlocking its quality.

Even with many out or unable to complete 90 minutes, Saturday's 4-0 win over Hibs was undoubtedly Rangers' best performance of the season. For his part, Clement didn't want to get carried away. When asked what impressed him about the performance he replied: "Impressed is a big word. I'm happy with the result."

Rangers were excellent in the game, especially in context of the season so far. They were full of running, tigerish in the press and got forward at will. Clement says he wants to see "verticality" in the team - coaching talk for getting the ball forward quickly - and that idea was clearly evident.

That said, Hibs' approach to the game certainly helped their opponents. Nick Montgomery started in a 4-4-2 with lightning wingers Martyn Boyle and Elie Youan on the flanks, clearly sensing blood in the water after recent disasters. Rangers might have been bruised in of late but rarely are they troubled going toe to toe with domestic opponents at home. It may be another picture emerges entirely when facing a team with five men across the back line and a bank of four in front. These are the games that have cost Rangers in recent years and ensuring the creative depth to burst such blocks will be the bread and butter of Clement's tenure.

And yet, even if he solves the issue, the league title is already likely to end up with Celtic. After a wobbly spell, they are clearly now finding their shape as a Brendan Rodgers side and look to have adapted to the end of the Ange Postecoglou era. As they showed with an easy 4-1 win at Tynecastle yesterday, the Parkhead side are already too far ahead and too clinical for the league to be recovered without some sort of miracle for the Light Blues.

The cups are therefore where Clement can find joy. While his team's League Cup record in recent years is no reason to be confident, winning that trophy can be an obvious point to turbo-charge his reign. The Scottish Cup can then become a marker for next season while Europe is not to be dismissed although defeat in Cyprus means qualification will require some big performances. That said, get through the group stages and we know from past experience that anything can happen in that competition. A run to the latter stages alongside domestic cup success would stand as tangible progress with next season offering the chance of a proper tilt at the championship from the start. The pathway to success is there, even without a title this term. 

While the Clement era may not have begun with the fanfare or hubris of those epochs gone, the early signs suggest a manager of genuine substance has arrived.