Rangers may well go on to win Premiership matches in an easier manner than this. It just might not happen for many decades.
What a merciless shellacking of lowly Hamilton this proved to be, a clinical reclaiming of a nine-point advantage at the top of the Premiership that was every bit as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.
Eight months on from the night that David Moyo’s goal secured a famous win here from Brian Rice’s men, this was another illustration of the distance subsequently travelled by Steven Gerrard’s men.
James Tavernier celebrates after scoring Rangers’ eighth goal against Hamilton on Sunday
Tavernier smashes in a loose ball after Kemar Roofe’s shot was parried by the keeper
Tavernier scores his side’s seventh goal from the penalty spot after Jermain Defoe was fouled
Rangers: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic (Ughelumba 46), Arfield (Itten 74), Jack (Zungu 46), Aribo (Hagi 69), Roofe, Defoe, Kent (Barker 58).
Subs not used: McGregor, Helander, Kamara, Morelos.
Goals: Arfield 16, Roofe 18, Aribo 19, 36, Roofe 54, Barker 62, Tavernier 65 pen, 69
Hamilton: Fulton, Stirling, Odofin, Easton, Hodson, Callachan (Mimnaugh 72), Collar, Hughes (Lewis Smith 55), McMann, Ogboe (Winter 55), Moyo
Subs not used: Aaron Martin, Stanger, Gourlay, Thomas, Callum Smith, Johnson
Booked: Moyo, Callachan
Referee: Steven McLean (Scotland)
Rangers haven’t lost a match domestically since that extraordinary night. On this evidence, it will be some time before they do so again.
There wasn’t a hint of fatigue from the midweek endeavours in Lisbon, only a steely resolve to ensure they enter the international break with their lead intact.
The simply blew away an opponent who was not at the races, running up the biggest victory of their manager’s tenure and claiming a fifth domestic clean sheets on bounce.
There were doubles for Kemal Roofe, Joe Aribo and James Tavernier together with strikes from Scott Arfield and Brandon Barker. Only the efforts of Ryan Fulton in the Accies’ goal prevented the tally from reaching double figures.
The spread of the goals – four in each half – was informative. Gerrard’s men started with their feet pressed to the floor and did not let up. Their pressing and appetite was as noticeable in the closing stages as it was at the game’s outset.
By every measure, they are a far more accomplished outfit than the side that stumbled against such opponents last years.
To put this win in context, it was the first time Rangers had scored eight goals in the league since beating Kilmarnock 8-1 in 1981. And truly it could have been anything.
Sometimes you have to give Hamilton their due. Bottom of the pile or not, they tend to roll up to venues like Ibrox intent on having a go.
But you have to question the sense in throwing caution to the wind with a 3-5-2 against a Rangers’ side in a completely different place to when they last darkened the door of Ibrox. It’s a thin line between being brave and reckless. This was always liable to go one of two ways.
Gerrard’s side could have been comfortably out of sight within 10 minutes. Connor Goldson caught Borna Barisic’s corner with a half-volley that forced Fulton into a smart tip over his bar.
Goldson’s searching ball over the top was then gathered in behind by Ryan Kent only for the winger’s footing to give way at the vital moment.
As Fulton parried Tavernier’s low shot and Jermain Defoe sent another shot wide, the only question was how long Accies’ resistance would last. The answer was 16 minutes.
It came through stealing work from Defoe after he’d dropped deep and taken the ball on the turn. He released Kent who’d exploited the gaping holes in the visiting rearguard. The wide man squared to the on-running Arfield who swept the ball home from 12 yards.
Hamilton were barely able to exhale and gather themselves when they conceded again two minutes later. Tavernier was the provider with a deep cross. Roofe simply wanted it more than anyone in a packed six yard box and guided a header back across goal and in.
For the visitors, it was already a matter of damage limitation yet the scoreline looked even uglier within a minute when Aribo’s shot from the edge of the box caught an outstretched ankle and deceived Fulton. Game well and truly over after just 19 minutes.
Just as pleasing to Gerrard would have been the hunger for more. The tempo with which his side played scarcely dropped even though this was now little more than shooting practice.
A drop of the shoulder by Kent threatened to bring up the fourth soon after. This time Fulton got down to ensure he wasn’t beaten at his near post.
Even allowing for the obvious gap in quality, Hamilton did themselves few favours here. Rice’s men didn’t block nearly enough crosses. They didn’t make interceptions. They lost too many tackles they shouldn’t have. They were dragged this way then that, repeatedly running towards the ball and leaving gaping gaps.
Rangers’ fourth, arriving on 36 minutes, in no way flattered them. Tavernier’s cross was too deep but it said much for the appetite of the home side that it was gathered by a man wearing light blue.
Roofe return the ball to Aribo. A nick off Will Collar took his shot high into the net for his second of the day.
Fulton would have been expecting a busy afternoon and it was that and then some. Only his reflexes prevented Arfield adding a fifth before the interval.
The comfortable scenario allowed Gerrard to give Bongani Zungu his long-awaited debut from the bench with Calvin Bassey also entering the fray. Ryan Jack and Barisic made way. Barker then replaced Kent.
Only Fulton’s outstretched arm prevented Accies conceding another immediately after the break but the traffic was only one-way.
The fifth goal arrived via the dancing feet of Kent, his whipped right foot-cross coming back off the inside of the far post. Roofe was in the right place at the right time to claim his second.
Bassey played a part in No 6 arriving eight minutes later. His thrust upon the left brought Defoe into the game with Barker converting his cross with his first touch.
Accies were all over the place. Hakeem Odoffin’s upending of Defoe summoned up their afternoon. Despite both Roofe and Aribo being on hat-tricks, Tavernier slammed the spot kick down the middle.
The skipper’s 12th of the season arrived four minutes later – this time from open play. Roofe’s shot on the turn was parried by Fulton back into the one area he couldn’t put it with the full-back slamming home the eighth of the afternoon.
Defoe did everything but score. The closest the veteran came was a shot on the turn that rattled the upright before hitting the keeper and going for a corner.
The comfort for Gerrard these days is that one player having an off day in from the of goal tends to make little difference.