THE best Rangers teams have tended to play with a partnership of two men up-front working in perfect harmony.

No matter your vintage, when it comes to naming a favourite memory, be it first game, best win, a cup final, the players on the pitch that day will have included a duo of goalscorers. Well, before these last few seasons but we’ll get to that.

Voted by the supporters, the greatest front-two of them all was Ally McCoist and Mark Hateley.

They were the classic and never bettered poacher-big guy combination which would be wrong to describe as typical given these two icons of Ibrox were anything but normal players.

If these two were fit, they started games. Indeed, had Walter Smith sent out a team at Ibrox with what we now call a lone striker, the stands would have been full of discontent murmurings. That wasn’t the Rangers way.

It doesn’t seem so long ago when every team played with two centre-forwards and yet this is caveman thinking regarding modern football. Most teams play with one striker, and two wingers or a tweaked version of that formation.

There will be always be a number one, no matter what the manager claims, and at Rangers that’s Alfredo Morelos. Some youngster called Jermain Defoe reminded us all, if we needed it, that he is quite good at scoring goals as well; just the three – a perfect hat-trick – against Hibernian on Sunday.

As soon as the third went in, Defoe’s number was held up. Morelos got 20 minutes or so and still managed to score two fine goals of his own. No wonder Steven Gerrard was a happy man.

If the modern way of setting up his team is with one leading the line, with what some of us would call a No9, then to have both your men who can play that role in such good form is a joyful thing.

“It will be horse for courses,” so said Rangers legend Hateley yesterday, echoing the phrase used by Gerrard in his post-match press conference. “And the fact both Jermain and our friend Alfredo are in form is a huge bonus for this season. Steven knows that by resting one does not diminish his team’s goal-threat.

“Sunday worked out perfectly. Jermaine did what he’s been doing for years, then Alfredo comes on and shows he understood why he was on the bench and scored two terrific goals. It’s about managing them. Alfredo was magnificent on Thursday night in Denmark but the call to keep him on the bench for Hibs proved right.

“Competition is good. Looking over your shoulder, wondering about your place even when you’re playing well is good for this football club. We have that with these two and, as Steven said they will understand why he will swap them around.

“There will be games which suit Alfredo, and others you would play Jermain. It’s impossible for them both to play all the time.

“Every player, even now, wants to play in every game. Alfredo would have wanted to start against Hibs, especially after what was a magnificent performance away from home in Europe, but it seems he understands the situation.”

Hateley was a monster of a player during his Rangers days. He scored over 100 goals and surely there were as many assists – mostly for McCoist. Those fans who never saw the big guy in action missed something special.

Defoe was starting out at West Ham United when Hateley was winding down his career at Hull City, so the pair just about played at the same time. This was in 2000, in football terms the prehistoric age, and yet a man whose 37th birthday is weeks away, scores a hat-trick and ran the Hibs central defence into the ground.

“I love watching Jermain,” admits Hateley. “It’s the way he brings team-mates into the game, how his movement gets Rangers further up the field. Steven knew what he was getting. They played together after all.

“Jermain is an expert at coming off his man, making defenders turn, getting on the end of balls. He needs one touch to score.

“Alfredo should watch him, take some tips, because there are weak points to his game which if he can sort out, and his strong elements get stronger, we have a seriously good player on our hands. He could learn how to get more involved, as Jermain does, in terms of build-up, but this isn’t to say he hasn’t come back after the summer looking really good.

“With his first touches of the ball, he nutmegs a Hibs lad, runs in on goal and scored. Want to know what that is? Confidence.”

Two games into the league season is, of course, long enough to judge how the next 36 games will go. Well, in Glasgow at least.

Hateley is confident without getting ahead of himself, which is more than can be said for some, emphasis on some, who see the wins over Kilmarnock and Hibs, two sides who have given Rangers so many problems, as proof that Celtic can be stopped.

What can be said with complete certainty is that Rangers this season are an improved and far more entertaining version compared to last campaign.

“The difference for is that we have two players for every position” he said. “We are still an unpredictable team but one which will get better and better as the weeks go on. It’s been an encouraging start. The way we went at Hibs was great to watch. They played some really good football at times.

“We have back up from goalkeeper to the guys we’ve been discussing which wasn’t there last season. As I said, players need to feel they are being pushed by the guy who wants to take their place.

Rangers have began well. Ten goals scored in three days is not a bad return. Tougher test lies ahead but Morelos and Defoe, while very different players, live to score goals and are proof that to compliment a team-mate doesn’t always mean that you’re on the park at the same time.