Large groups of their supporters gathered outside Ibrox to greet them before they defeated St Mirren 3-0 and then again at the full-time whistle when Steven Gerrard’s players made their way to the corner of the Copland Road and Main Stands to acknowledge their presence.
Rangers are still one point away from official confirmation of their first title triumph in a decade. That would come their way if outgoing champions Celtic fail to take maximum points at Dundee United on Sunday.
But with a superior goal difference of 26, Rangers are entitled to pop the champagne corks whenever they like. What has been a formality for months is now only delayed by a technicality. The conduct of some Rangers supporters may be frowned upon from Bute House and beyond but after a decade of despair, it was a predictable and understandable outpouring of joy.
Gerrard and his players are deserving champions, having set a dominant and consistent tone to this league campaign from the outset.
Serving his one match touchline ban, he had to watch from the directors’ box as goals from his front three Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Ianis Hagi saw off a Saints side who still hold the distinction of inflicting the only defeat Rangers have suffered in 45 games in all competitions this season.
That League Cup exit in Paisley back in December has been the only bump in the road in 2020-21 for Gerrard as the work he has put into rebuilding and rejuvenating the Rangers squad since 2018 has come to hugely rewarding fruition.
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin, who can proudly boast of having masterminded that shock 3-2 win three months ago, summed it up perfectly in his generous post-match comments on a day when his top six contenders were very much second best.
“Rangers have been excellent all season and deserve all the pats on the back they've had,” said Goodwin. “You can over-analyse your own performance and sometimes you just need to hold your hands up and say you were well-beaten by the better team.”
Outstanding from back to front
While Rangers must wait for the deal to be formally sealed, this was a display worthy of clinching a title and one which summed up all of the strengths which have served them so effectively since last August.
A 23rd clean sheet in 32 Premiership fixtures was overseen by the excellent Connor Goldson, captain in the absence of the injured James Tavernier, as the ever-present central defender ensured Saints barely got a sniff of goal.
When they did, they found Allan McGregor in typically alert and acrobatic form when the veteran goalkeeper threw himself to his right to keep out a close range effort from Saints substitute Jon Obika midway through the second half.
By that stage, Rangers were in cruise control with a 3-0 lead established on the back of Steven Davis’ calm authority in midfield and the persistent threat posed by the pace, movement and intelligence which combine so potently in the front three of Kent, Morelos and Hagi.
Whatever unfolds at Tannadice on Sunday, it was immediately clear that Rangers were never going to fluff their own lines here as they raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 16 minutes.
Kent’s 11th goal of the season, the winger dropping a shoulder and drilling a left foot shot beyond Jak Alnwick, was quickly followed by a 15th of the campaign for the in-form Morelos as the Colombian striker latched onto a clever pass from Glen Kamara and steered an angled shot in off the Saints goalkeeper’s right hand upright.
Just 27 seconds into the second half, Rangers made sure they would be making it 16 wins out of 16 at home in the league this season. Joe Aribo and Kent combined down the left to catch the Saints defence cold, leaving Hagi with a relatively simple finish he dispatched with aplomb.
But for Alnwick, who made fine saves to deny Kent, Scott Arfield and Jermain Defoe, it would have been a more emphatic margin of victory for Rangers. But it was a performance which left their manager more than satisfied as he confirmed he and his players will have an eye on the action on Tayside this Sunday lunchtime.
A watching brief
“We do monthly schedules and they don't really change,” said Gerrard. “The plan, because of our Europa League game against Slavia Prague on Thursday night, was always to have a recovery day.
“So we'll come in for a recovery session and have lunch together. I'm sure the (Celtic) game will be on in the background. I'm not going to lie, that's normal.
“We'll see what happens tomorrow. But the priority is going to be getting the players ready physically and mentally for Thursday as it's going to be a real tough challenge, probably our most difficult of the season so far.
“I'm obviously really, really happy and proud right now. I can certainly relate to these emotions that I've had as a player.
“At the same time, I want to stay controlled and humble because obviously it's not confirmed as of yet. But I think everyone knows it's 99.99 percent done.”
Rangers (4-3-3): McGregor, Patterson, Goldson, Helander (Balogun 58), Barisic; Kamara, Davis (Arfield 58), Aribo; Hagi (Wright 73), Morelos (Defoe 73), Kent (Stewart 81). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Bassey, Simpson, Itten.
St Mirren (4-5-1): Alnwick, Fraser, McCarthy, Shaughnessy, Tait; Connolly (MacPherson 71), McGrath (Flynn 71), Doyle-Hayes, Durmus (McAllister 55), Erhahon (Reid 88); Quaner (Obika 55). Subs not used: Lyness, Henderson, Jamieson, Erwin.