THIS one won’t feature prominently in the end of season montage if Rangers go on and win the Premiership title this term.

But it could well have played a key role in helping them achieve that ambition after Giovanni van Bronckhorst made it three from three as manager with victory over Hibernian.

In terms of the performance, it was the worst of the Dutchman’s tenure so far. Thanks to a late Kemar Roofe penalty, it’s importance cannot be understated.

This was a test of Rangers’ title mettle and it was one that they passed. On a night where they just had to win, they found a way to get over the line.

Such results are the mark of champions. They were integral to 55 being clinched, now more must be earned in the coming weeks as Van Bronckhorst sets his sights on 56.

Victory at Easter Road won’t make amends for the Hampden horror show last month. It did, at least, ensure that Hibernian didn’t inflict even more damage on Rangers’ campaign.

The stage was set for another thrilling encounter between these two. As the teams took to the field under the floodlights, the away end was filled with smoke and a red and white glow as Rangers supporters started the pyrotechnic show.

A green and white tifo display from their Hibernian counterparts was accompanied by a banner which read ‘the future’s… green and white’ as the Leith locals aimed a not so subtle dig at the message that had greeted Van Bronckhorst at Hampden ten days previously.

This could have been an end-to-end, cracker of a tie in the run-up to Christmas. It would turn into a fixture that was largely a non-event and an anti-climax.

The threat of Hibernian, and especially that of Martin Boyle, was well-known to Rangers and it was marshalled with relative ease in a lacklustre encounter. A handful of half chances came from corners, but there was little to really worry Allan McGregor.

The action was competitive but not compelling. As passes too regularly went astray, a series of niggling fouls interrupted the flow of the action.

Connor Goldson was booked for a foul on Kevin Nisbet, while Jake Doyle-Hayes went into John Beaton’s book for scything down Ianis Hagi. From the free-kick that followed, Joe Aribo flicked a header wide across goal.

The usual antics of the battle between Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Porteous provided a sideshow to the action, but it was goals and chances that the crowd had come to see. Off the park as well as on it, it was all unexpectedly flat.

Rangers would have been content enough with proceedings, but could not have been happy with their performance overall at that stage. It was certainly a marked improvement from their last meeting, at least.

But there would surely have been frustration for Jack Ross that his side hadn’t been able to replicate that all-action, electric performance from Hampden now that they were on home soil.

In the matches with Sparta Prague and Livingston since that semi-final defeat, Van Bronckhorst has started to make his mark on Rangers. Defensive issues have still been prevalent, but the champions have at least looked livelier in the final third.

The opposite was the case here, though. Rangers were comfortable in their own half but didn’t have the guile or the cutting edge to find the breakthrough they could have argued they just about merited before the interval.

The fact that a near post effort from Steven Davis was as close as they had come in the opening half an hour told its own story. Rangers were comfortable in the match, but they were not controlling it in terms of the scoreboard.

Their three best chances came in the ten minutes before they returned to the dressing room. One was unlucky, one should have been scored and one was a sitter.

A header from Goldson falls into the second category. The defender rose well in the area, but he could only nod his effort into the arms of Matt Macey and his demeanour told its own story.

Hagi was left similarly frustrated. He almost sent Morelos clear and then picked up the second ball when the Colombian was halted in his tracks.

From distance, Hagi shifted himself into a shooting position. Had it not been for a deflection off Josh Doig that took his effort narrowly wide of target, he would have been celebrating a fine strike.

When it comes to the third chance, there is no doubt that Morelos should have scored. From six yards out, he just had to at least hit the target.

Glen Kamara sent Aribo free down the right and he would pick out Morelos as the striker manoeuvred himself into space. His header lacked convicted or direction, though, and Hibernian were let off the hook in the final seconds of the half.

In the opening minutes after the restart, the same could be said for Rangers. A Joe Newell cross seemed destined to be converted, but it was turned away by Goldson before Nisbet could turn it in.

Rangers’ decision making continued to let them down. Kent skewed an effort wide of target from range and then picked the wrong option – as did Davis shortly afterwards - on the break as promising situations came to nothing once again.

Smoke canisters – one green and one blue – that were thrown from the stands caused a temporary break in play. Once it resumed, there was still no spark from either side.

Van Bronckhorst attempted to find it by introducing Scott Arfield and Roofe as Davis and Morelos made way. Rangers certainly needed to raise their levels.

Kent was denied by Macey after firing in a powerful drive on the angle. At the other end, Chris Cadden couldn’t trouble McGregor from a similar position.

Time was soon of a premium. With five minutes left, Rangers got the goal they had waited so long for.

Porteous was penalised for a foul on Kent and Beaton pointed to the spot. Roofe made no mistake from 12 yards.

A staggered run-up deceived Macey and the finish was clinical as he was sent the wrong way. Finally, the away crowd had something to celebrate as Hibs were deflated.

In the end, both sides got what they deserved from this one. Only time will tell how fondly Rangers recall it after another small step on the road to title glory.