Chased by their own support as they headed to offer their appreciation in the aftermath of what felt like an increasingly routine derby meeting, the Rangers players would have been left with no doubts about how they are seen in the eyes of their own.
For a third successive game against them Celtic did not hit the heights yet emerged from a meeting against Rangers with full spoils. In a game where Rangers’ season was condensed into 90 minutes this felt like a campaign in microcosm; sleepy defending, a lack of composure in the final third and picked off by their more alert rivals.
Celtic now have one hand on a fifth treble in just seven years. No wonder the Rangers fans could barely contain their ire. Where were the match winners for them? Alfredo Morelos, ponderous and slow, was a man short. Ryan Kent turned his back on the ball and headed in the other direction as Daizen Maeda pounced to tee up Jota. Captain James Tavernier did not even muster a glance over his shoulder at the menace of the Portuguese winger until he had stolen in behind him and was cushioning the ball into the back of the net.
Michael Beale spoke of ripping it up and starting again. But that’s just the start of it. Rangers need a clear out but the biggest thing they need cannot be bought. They need a change in mentality after becoming serial losers in this fixture; Ange Postecoglou has lost just one out of nine of these meetings.
The narrative around these games can flip quickly. It takes just one win to change the mood but the problem for Rangers is that the current players at the club look weighed down by the pressure of the fixture.
Having failed to beat Celtic in four games that he has presided over, Beale will also find himself starting next season under a significant microscope. It is the game in which Glasgow managers are judged and he will know that the pressure is on from first whistle as soon as new campaign gets underway.