WHAT has been described as the biggest overhaul of the squad at Rangers in years is already well underway.

The Ibrox club still have another three cinch Premiership matches to play this season. But they have already been linked with summer moves for Jack Butland, Kieran Dowell and Dujon Sterling. Up to a dozen players are set to depart in the coming weeks and as many again will arrive to replace them.

Did the 3-0 victory over Celtic in Govan on Saturday, though, show that manager Michael Beale has more talent at his disposal at the moment than was widely believed?

Does Beale, in fact, already have the spine of a team which can challenge their city rivals for major honours next term in place?

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Nobody at Rangers should make the mistake of getting carried away with the performance and result against opponents who had retained the Scottish title with four games to spare six days earlier.

Ange Postecoglou fielded a weakened team: Alexandro Bernabei came in for Greg Taylor at left back, Yuki Kobayashi deputised for the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers at centre half, Tony Ralston continued at right back in the absence of Alistair Johnston, Liel Abada made his first start in nearly two months on the right wing as Daizen Maeda was rested and Oh Hyeon-gyu was preferred to Kyogo Furuhashi at striker.

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And the Parkhead club still, despite the absence of no fewer than five outfield players who are automatic starters, controlled long spells of the encounter and created a number of scoring opportunities in the final third.

Would the visitors have been so porous at the back and profligate up front if the match, branded the Dead Rubber Derby beforehand, had actually mattered? It is highly unlikely. Postecoglou clearly had half an eye on the Scottish Cup final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden next month, a match his men can complete a world record eighth domestic treble in.  

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That said, Rangers still impressed onlookers greatly during the course of the 90 minutes. Crucially, those individuals who will survive the close season cull were integral to the triumph. Robby McCrorie in goals, John Souttar and Ridvan Yilmaz in defence, Todd Cantwell and Nico Raskin in midfield and Rabbi Matondo in attack all distinguished themselves.

The impact which Cantwell and Raskin, the only two signings Beale has made since taking over from Giovanni van Bronckhorst in November, have made in this country augurs well for the forthcoming recruitment drive.

The Englishman and the Belgian are completely different footballers. The former is a maverick, brilliant on the ball, eager to get forward and with eye for goal. The latter is more combative and defensively minded. But they complement each other well in the middle of the park. They certainly won the all-important battle in that area of the field at the weekend.

Aged just 25 and 22 respectively, they promise to be mainstays of the Rangers side next term regardless of who joins them and then for some time to come thereafter.

Can McCrorie, who kept his fourth clean sheet in as many first team appearances, Souttar, who helped to repel the newly-crowned champions and netted at a corner, Yilmaz, who ran from kick-off to the final whistle, and Matondo, who is enjoying a decent end to a difficult debut season, establish themselves in a similar fashion next term?

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The quartet have, for a variety of different reasons, been peripheral figures during the past 10 months. But they should by no means be written off on the evidence of Saturday. Beale clearly feels they have much to offer or he would not have selected them to start in a match he needed to prevail in to ease the growing pressure he was under.

Raskin, a £1.75m capture from Standard Liege in his homeland back in January, was keen to deflect attention away from himself and Cantwell and onto the Rangers side as a whole in the aftermath of the Celtic win.

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“I think we are creating a good team,” he said. "Yes, I have a good relationship with Todd.  He's very important for us. And now he's scoring goals. He's very good. But we are not two in midfield. We are six with Glen (Kamara), Scott (Arfield), John (Lundstram), (Ryan) Jacko and even Alex (Lowry) who came in today.”

The Belgium Under-21 internationalist has settled in to life in Glasgow quickly. The same cannot be said of several of his squad mates. But he is optimistic they will be able to contribute more than they have to date in future. Not least £2.5m Welsh internationalist Matondo, who he squared up to when Standard faced Cercle Brugge last term.

"I think when you come here you have to adapt,” he said. “Me too. Just give them time. I think they are going to do something great next season. I have known Rabbi for a long time and he's a top player, I can tell you. So I am excited to see him for next season.”

Raskin will be counting the days until the 2023/24 campaign gets underway. He felt the gap between Rangers and Celtic was not as great as many commentators contended during his first three Old Firm outings. He believes the win at Ibrox confirmed as much.

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"The performance is something we can build on for next season,” he said. “It's been a long time since we gave a performance like that. In the semi-final, especially in the second half, we were better than them, we just couldn't score goals. So now we score goals, it makes a big difference to the team.

“We just continue to go. Even in the second half we had some good chances. They didn't create much. We had eight shots on target, they had one. We have to believe in ourselves. This makes a big difference.

“We play here first next season so everyone is going to remember what happened at Ibrox on Saturday. We need to take confidence and make sure we do the same performance.”