HEARTS took a couple of Premiership points from Rangers at Tynecastle earlier this season but Ibrox remains a distinctly unhappy hunting ground for them. That is five years and counting since the Gorgie side last recorded a win here, back when both sides were housed in Scotland’s second tier. While Rangers have gone on to bigger and better things since then, on this evidence at least Hearts simply have a battle on their hands this season just to avoid ending up back there.

What might have been a fraught occasion for the home side – playing catch up on Celtic, days after an energy sapping trip to Rotterdam – quickly became anything but. By the end, Rangers were padding their goal difference column and seeking out the solitary strike they needed by the end to gain parity with the Parkhead side at the top.

But what else did we learn from a day where Rangers demonstrated their intent to match their historic city rivals stride for stride?

A man possessed

Only one goal today, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Will Jermain Defoe come in for him at Pittodrie in midweek to keep Morelos at his sharpest for the BetFred Cup final? Perhaps, but keeping the little Colombian out of any match when he is in this type of form seems counter-intuitive.

After the two perfectly executed headers in Rotterdam on Tuesday night saw him break Henrik Larsson’s all time scoring record for continental goals in a season for a Scottish club, he was head and shoulders above pretty much everyone else yesterday.

Benefitting from another well-timed Borna Barisic cross, he made another prodigious leap, getting leverage on Aaron Hickey to nod home.

Pereira was out well to deny him a second from a James Tavernier delivery then he missed the target when played through on goal by Davis, but 26 goals by the start of December is the kind of rate which could even threaten Jim Forrest’s all time single season tally for the club of 57. There was plenty of other stuff yesterday too, he made plenty of clearing defensive headers and got a few kicks for the bother.

Hearts saga dragging on

With Craig Levein sacked on Hogmanay, the full calendar month of November has now passed without a new permanent occupant of the Hearts manager’s office. Aside from the short-term filip of a 5-2 win against St Mirren, the main sensation during this period has been one of drift. Former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel may be the man Ann Budge wants, but progress has been slow and the games are about to come thick and fast.

The club, also simultaneously looking for a director of football, can at least welcome some of their players back from the treatment room, with Scotland hopeful Craig Halkett, Steven Naismith and Jamie Walker all involved. But judging by an occasion where they barely mustered a shot, Hearts need some stability fast, if what is already a poor season isn’t to deteriorate further.

Test of depth

Steven Gerrard opted to rest Ryan Jack after a strenuous couple of weeks, handing a first start for a while in a deeper role to Scott Arfield, a man whose recent troubles on the field were put down to a “personal issue” off it. Sheyi Ojo, another in inconsistent form recently, dropped out too, to facilitate Joe Aribo. Considering how a glut of huge games in the next month will define Rangers’ season, it must have been pleasing for the Englishman to see Arfield and Aribo combine to play Ryan Kent in for his side’s second goal. The Nigerian international picked out the right cut back and Kent continued his Feyenoord form to steer it under Pereira.

The real star men in that Rangers, midfield, though, were orchestrator in chief Steven Davis and all-energy which reported £8m Juventus target Glen Kamara. Davis, in particular, barely wasted a pass – short or long – all day. Gerrard will be keen indeed that both men can maintain this form as their date with destiny at Hampden approaches.

Pantomime villain

Steven Naismith used to be revered in this part of the world, but somewhere along the line the Scotland man has become persona non grata, his every touch greeted with boos and jeers. Whether it was the apparent sin of refusing to TUPE his contract from oldco to newco, or some more recent on-field antics in the BetFred Cup semi-final, which led to a niggly feud with Connor Goldson, you would have thought he has more goodwill in the bank than this.

10,000th goal

Greg Stewart doesn’t get many minutes on the field, but he has a happy knack of making things happen. Only arriving for the last ten minutes or so after the luckless Christophe Berra had put through his own goal for No 3, the former Kilmarnock and Aberdeen man was on the spot to roll in Rangers’ fourth on the day - and the club’s 10,000th league goal altogether - after his fellow sub Sheyi Ojo had caught Hickey playing out in a bad area.

He then cut the goal difference again when his header just about made it over the line despite the efforts of Pereira and Hickey. Knowing another two goals would see them climb back to the top of the table, the crowd roared Rangers on but Hearts were able to prevent any further blood-letting.