Ahead of his first Rangers game in charge, Phillipe Clement was asked if Rangers fans could expect to see changes from the Michael Beale era. “I hope the fans see differences, but I’m not Harry Potter with a magic stick who can change everything suddenly," he said with a glint in his eye.

And yet what he's achieved at Ibrox already has the feeling of some sort of fantastical sleight of hand, such is the difference in this team. Fluent and confident, they look utterly transformed.  Each and every domestic performance has been notable for dominance, including a second half blitzkrieg at Hampden yesterday where they might have taken five or six from Hearts in 45 minutes.

The shift from the turgid, soporific football in the Beale era is stark. The lack of identity and sense of on-field confusion that blighted the final days of the Londoner's time in charge is gone, replaced with clarity and purpose. The players look to have clear instructions and a unity of intention. 

And it's clear that Rangers is now a much happier ship. John Lundstram is always good for an unvarnished quote and he certainly didn't disappoint when asked what his new boss has brought to the Ibrox table. He said: "He's been so good since he came in. I can't speak highly enough of him. I'm really happy with the form we are in and we are going in the right direction. It's hard to put your finger on one thing, he's just been a breath of fresh air and the mood around the place is so much better." This assessment won't be comfortable reading for Beale, that's for certain. 

While there have now been a few thinly veiled digs, ironically Clement's magic is also inadvertently helping the Londoner's reputation. Beale's been battered for his recruitment but it's now becoming clear that at least Abdallah Sima, Danilo and the peerless Jack Butland have something tangible to offer as signings. While major doubts over Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers' transfers remain, they are at least looking more confident. And that could be said for so many, suddenly rejuvenated by the arrival of a man who appears to have absolute command over what he's doing. 

And that's perhaps the lesson in all of this. In Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and Beale, the appointments were about the prodigal son returning, with an emphasis on their understanding of club culture. Perhaps we can now see this aspect of managerial recruitment can be unnecessarily hyped, after all, the only true requirement of any manager is that he is both a leader and a winner. Clement, like Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, has shown the importance of simply getting the best manager available.

READ MORE: Clement picks out six Rangers players for praise after Hearts win

Beale was a young coach who was going to make mistakes on the job but Rangers is no proving ground. It's a place for hardened, seasoned professionals. With three Belgian league titles across his time at both Genk and Club Brugge, Champions League experience and a spell cutting his teeth in one of the top five leagues in Europe - that's exactly what CEO James Bisgrove and the club have secured and so far, it shows.

Of course, it's only been three weeks but with a chance to cut Celtic's lead by three points to five and reaching a cup final, he's already made tangible progress in a very small window of opportunity.

There are still problems of course. The team is very reliant on Danilo and there shouldn't be much faith in Dessers should there be an injury. This will surely be the number one area to address in January with a deal for proven SPFL striker Lawrence Shankland staring Clement in the face. That's a no-brainer for all concerned.

At left-back, he's now the third manager in a row who's preferred Borna Barisic over Ridvan Yilmaz. Given how one note the Croatian is, that's quite the snub to the young Turk and suggests the significant £3.5m investment has been poorly utilised. With Barisic out of contract in the summer and with few signs of a new deal in the offing, it's an area that will have to be addressed.

The rest of the team's reimagination will depend on players like Jose Cifuentes, Dujon Sterling and John Souttar impressing the manager enough to convince him to give them a chance. Can Nicolas Raskin find a level of consistency to match his obvious quality? Has someone like Scott Wright played himself into a future with the club when all looked lost aboard a flight to Istanbul in the summer? It will be fascinating to see how much change the January window will bring. 

Looking at the squad on paper, it's hard to imagine there won't be more challenging times ahead at some point. Celtic remain strong, with a proven manager whose record in Scotland speaks for itself. And yet, underlying data has been revealed to show they aren't quite as good as their results would suggest. Based on the expected goals metric so far this season, Celtic are currently overperforming. With fan unrest around the Green Brigade section continuing and a serious injury to their best player in Reo Hatate, suddenly Brendan Rodgers' men look a little less secure in their assumed position as champions-elect. 

If Clement can continue his sorcery and conjure up a first League Cup win in twelve years then marry it with a genuine title challenge from the ashes he inherited just weeks ago - we might just start to ask him once again about that magic wand.