IT was an afternoon that marked an end for the old guard at Ibrox. It was one where the new faces gave an insight into a potentially brighter future.

The rebuilding work that was commenced when Todd Cantwell and Nicolas Raskin were recruited during the January transfer window will continue apace over the summer. The bar has been set with those bits of business and now it must be raised as Michael Beale assembles a squad in his name and his image.

This comfortable, commanding victory over Celtic ultimately matters little in terms of the table or the trophies. It is not a reason to get carried away or an excuse to believe that the work pencilled in does not need to be as wide-ranging as previously believed.

Yet it carries its own significance for Beale and those members of his squad that will get the chance to build on the performance and the result next season. It offers a glimmer of hope, a reason for the recent recruits and the ones that will follow to believe that Rangers are on the right track.

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Cantwell will be one of the integral figures in that regard. It was fitting, then, that he would use this occasion to produce his most complete performance in this fixture at the fourth attempt.

At 25, Cantwell is the identikit of the kind of signing that Rangers will target during the close season. He slots into a Beale team in terms of style but there is a substance to him that cannot be overlooked and this showing combined all of his best traits.

To put it simply, Cantwell gets it at Ibrox. The unique world of Old Firm life may be a far cry from a quiet existence at Norwich and may have taken some getting used to, but there is a sense that Cantwell is not daunted by the madness, the scrutiny or the expectation.

He was perhaps bemused at the fake furore that surrounded the water bottle incident – if it can be called that – with Reo Hatate at Hampden. A couple of weeks previously, he had to address comments that he made on social media, which really shouldn’t have required further explanation, following the defeat at Parkhead that ended Rangers’ Premiership ambitions.

Cantwell has spoken of his desire to ensure that title 55 is added to before he leaves Ibrox and the importance of retaining the tagline of the world’s most successful club. He has touted himself as a big game player and revealed how it can be difficult for him to contain his excitement ahead of the matches that can make or break careers and that define legacies.

At a time when the positions of so many members of Beale’s squad are in doubt or are up for debate, the Ibrox boss needed one of those he will put his faith in to stand up and be counted against Celtic and Cantwell delivered. Like the supporters, he must keep his feet on the ground following this 3-0 win.

The Herald: Todd Cantwell

This is a side that are short of game changers and match winners. Here, Cantwell showed that he can be both and this was a performance that was composed and clinical, one of guile and guts.

Beale stood almost motionless as those around him in the stands lost their heads in the aftermath of the opening goal. As the sun shone down on Cantwell, he basked in the adoration of the supporters in the Broomloan Road.

He had started and finished the move that gave Rangers the lead. A neat dinked ball out to the flank was followed by a run that Matt O’Riley didn’t track and Cantwell was soon in the right place at the right time.

Joe Hart could only divert a John Lundstram strike into the path of the playmaker. The finish was drilled through Hart’s legs as Rangers had the rewards for a start that was full of pace and purpose.

It was the most telling contribution of Cantwell’s Rangers career to date. Operating in an advanced role in support of Fashion Sakala and Rabbi Matondo, the onus was on Cantwell to be a finisher as well as a creator, but he has shown already that he can be much more than that and he controlled the match in all senses.

Few would have expected Cantwell to have shown an aptitude for the other side, the rough and tumble side, of the game in Scotland. He is not all neat flicks and deft touches, though.

There is an endeavour about Cantwell that has endeared him to supporters. He thrives in the hustle and bustle rather than shirking challenges and his ability in close combat proved telling in the build-up to the second goal.

The header from John Souttar, another who more can be expected of going forward, came from the second of two James Tavernier corners.

It was a free-kick that Cantwell had won – as he showed strength and quick feet – that had relieved the pressure on Rangers initially, though, and that allowed them the chance to alter the flow of the game after Celtic had grown into it.

The lead was one that Rangers never looked like squandering. When Fashion Sakala made it 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining, the job was done and the game was won.

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Once again, Cantwell was involved. It was his pressure and challenge on Callum McGregor and Carl Starfelt that resulted in the unforced error and the break of ball and Sakala made no mistake this time as he rounded Hart to open up an advantage that was reflective of the encounter.

This will be the final Old Firm for a handful that have been through so many of these fixtures and that have enjoyed the highs and endured the lows along the way over recent seasons.

It is a time for new heroes to emerge. This was the quite the audition from Cantwell – the recipient of a rapturous applause - as he played a starring role on a day that was never going to be meaningless at Ibrox.