THE points are unlikely to earn Rangers prizes but performances will undoubtedly ease the pressure at Ibrox. For Mark Warburton, that is the more pressing concern at present.

A series of self-inflicted blows in the opening weeks of the campaign left Rangers’ title ambitions severely damaged but the stalemate against St Johnstone on Wednesday night was arguably the fatal wound.

As Warburton’s side were squandering another two points on home soil, Celtic, with a game in hand, were moving nine clear at the top of the table. The chorus of boos that rung around Ibrox were understandable, the feelings of frustration even more pertinent as the Gers failed to capitalise on slip-ups from Aberdeen and Hearts to take second spot in the standings.

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Just days later, that is where Rangers find themselves. It is one of the few positives that can be taken from a lacklustre start to the season.

Finishing best of the rest is never usually acceptable for Rangers but that is surely the target now for Warburton and his players. It is why the victory over Kilmarnock on Saturday came not an outing too soon.

Three goals earned Rangers three points but it was the performance that was the most pleasing aspect of the afternoon for a crowd that were sent home happy for a change.

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Rangers had their first effort within seconds of the whistle and had broken Killie’s resistance after just 15 minutes. Even at that stage, there was only going to be one winner.

Lee Clark’s side would have arrived at Ibrox aiming to add to the feelings of frustration and to capitalise on a situation that has seen the spotlight shine on Warburton like never before. A quick start or an early goal, like in midweek against the Saints, would have changed the mood of the majority of a 49,000 crowd.

Instead, it was Rangers who dominated the opening exchanges and who struck first, Lee Wallace finishing well after an eye of the needle pass from the impressive Josh Windass that split the Killie defence.

It was the type of move that Rangers completed and benefitted from so often last term but one that hasn’t been seen enough in recent weeks. It was also a sign of things to come.

Rangers’ passing was crisper, their movement more defined and purposeful as they stroked the ball about in the manner that Warburton wants.

A penalty from Andy Halliday just before the half hour made sure of the points and Joe Garner’s effort seconds after the break ended the match as a contest. The closing stages were a cruise for Rangers and their job was more than done.

When Garner and Kenny Miller were replaced after 70 minutes, Ibrox rose in appreciation of their efforts. There would be no howls of derision this time around.

A second goal in as many games was a reward for Garner’s endeavours and Warburton will hope that there are plenty more to come from the man he splashed out £1.8million on in the summer as he made the move from Preston North End.

This was by far his most accomplished showing in Light Blue. He is not yet a fully integrated part of the Warburton blueprint and it will take time for the 28-year-old to fit into the Gers front three, and for the rest of the side to adapt to his hustle and bustle approach at the head of the attack.

As Garner strives for further improvement, the best way to silence his critics will be to keep finding the back of the net.

His performance here offered fans hope that he could prove value for money but he wasn’t the only forward to catch the eye, with Miller and Michael O’Halloran also impressive.

One continues to defy the odds and the other has a point to prove. Both were crucial on Saturday, though, and deserve another start against Ross County this weekend.

It is a match that Warburton’s side will go into with a spring in their step but there will be no complacency within the Ibrox ranks. A benchmark has been set and the foundations now have to be built upon in the coming weeks.

As pleasing as Saturday’s performance and result would have been for Warburton, it must also have been puzzling in some regards.

Where has that energy and drive been for most of the season? Why could his side not have reached those levels against Hamilton, Ross County and St Johnstone?

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The challenge now for Rangers is to prove that they have indeed turned a corner and to convince supporters that the improvement Warburton has witnessed in patches can be turned into a sustained run of results.

It will not be good enough to transform them into title challengers. Even at this stage of the campaign, any upturn in form already appears to be too little too late.

But it is only performances and points that will prevent the pressure mounting on Warburton’s shoulders once again. Second won’t be accepted, but it is expected this season.