THE general election isn’t the only date to pencil into the diary in early December. On the eighth day of next month – four days before the likes of Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon battle it out in the polls - the Old Firm will meet up at Mount Florida to contest the BetFred Cup final. It will be the first Glasgow grudge match in a domestic cup final since Rangers got the better of Celtic in this same competition back in 2011.

When Rangers made sure of their spot by putting an unconvincing Hearts side to the sword yesterday it meant they had also successfully exorcised their Hampden hoodoo.

Prior to yesterday, their last five semi-finals at the national stadium had ended in defeat, without scoring a solitary goal. Throw in the Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts’ Edinburgh rivals Hibs and that is an even half dozen Hampden defeats on the spin.

Steven Gerrard had only been around for one of those, though, last year’s semi-final defeat to Aberdeen at this venue. And that was back in the days when he had to go with Umar Sadiq up front.

Instead, from the moment a gleeful Filip Helander was given freedom of the penalty area to sweep in the opener in first-half injury time, it was clear yesterday that there was to be no ‘dead cat bounce’ from a Hearts side who dispensed with the services of Craig Levein some 72 hours before kick-off. This was to be a landslide victory.

In fact, when you considered the disarray the Gorgie side were in during a second period where they were fortunate only to concede two more goals, both to Alfredo Morelos, rarely can a team have committed hara kiri to their semi-final chances in such spectacular and unorthodox manner.

A penny for the thoughts of the man who took them to the last four and masterminded a 1-1 draw against these same opponents just two weeks earlier. Not to mention Ann Budge, the club’s owner, who will address the media today with updates a new manager hunt which so far seems to have alighted on Motherwell’s Stephen Robinson as a prospective candidate.

This was the first phase of what Levein’s assistant Austin MacPhee had called a “ten-day audition” to the land the job on a permanent basis and let’s just say he still has some work to do to seal the deal.

Given all of 72 hours to get his plans in order for this game, McPhee insisted it took him just an hour to come with his team.

When the team sheets duly arrived yesterday, some sceptics wondered if he might have been wiser to ponder things a little longer.

While he was relived to welcome Steven Naismith and Jamie Walker back onto his bench, it was a curve ball for him to leave Uche Ikpeazu alongside him, given the hulking frontman’s success in that Tynecastle match-up a fortnight ago.

Instead, there was a first start of the season for Craig Wighton, who along with Ryo Meshino were charged with joining up with one-time Rangers striker Steven MacLean up front.

It wasn’t exactly MacPhee’s fault, but as it happened MacLean was up the tunnel and Ikpeazu on in his stead five minutes before half time. First, the veteran striker picked up a soft first booking in an aerial challenge with Connor Goldson then he was hauled off unceremoniously before he got sent off after lunging in on goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

Soon to turn 38, the striker can hardly use inexperience as an excuse.

Neither was it MacPhee’s fault that the club’s injury curse should recur in such spectacular fashion Losing Glenn Whelan 20 minutes in was as a hammer blow, just as it was to see Michael Smith hirple to the sidelines shortly after the restart.

But while it took Rangers a while to get to grips to Hearts’ 4-3-3 shape, once James Tavernier started getting outside Ryo Meshino down the right it was only a matter of time until they pressed home their advantage in this match.

Had their final ball or finish been sharper, this game could have been even easier than it was for the Ibrox side.

Prior to his departure, Smith in particularly was continuing his fine recent form, saving three goals himself with blocks during that opening period, while Joel Pereira saved well from both Ryan Jack and Tavernier.

Hearts were rarely in the match as an attacking force but they almost got in at half-time unscathed. The notion was undone in added time when Morelos returned a partially-cleared corner through the legs of Smith and a mix-up of defensive assignments allowed Helander to smash the ball into the net from close range.

Stung by the setback, Ikpeazu had time to get a shot on target for the Tynecastle side, but his effort was too close to McGregor. Instead, this game was done as a contest just a minute into the second period when Tavernier returned a Barisic cross into the area with interest and the movement of Morelos and a sharp near post finish was too much for Hearts to contend with.

The little striker broke the 20-goal barrier by the start of November with number three, Ryan Kent’s stepovers and speed too much for the now demoralised Hickey, who was left manfully plugging the trenches at centre half, with Morelos guiding a low finish into the bottom corner.

It was testament to Joel Pereira that the final scoreline wasn’t more painful for Hearts. While their end of this ground had all but emptied fully ten minutes before the final whistle, Rangers fans gloried in a further step in their side’s return to relevance.

With new sporting director Ross Wilson at Hampden yesterday for the first time to survey the squad at his disposal, they will return to this stadium next month to see whether they can do anything about Celtic’s three-year stranglehold of Scotland’s domestic silverware.