THE road that Rangers hope will lead to 56 started at Firhill. Time will tell if Steven Gerrard's side reach their destination as the champions savour their history but strive for future glories.

This friendly victory Partick Thistle – coming 51 days after the champions lifted the Premiership silverware at Ibrox – will matter little come the end of the campaign.

It was still a useful exercise, though, as some of those title heroes returned to action alongside forgotten faces and up-and-coming talents. Rangers had to be patient, but a Cedric Itten strike late on would earn them the win.

A trip to Tranmere on Saturday is next on the agenda for Rangers, while Blackpool and Arsenal have also been confirmed as pre-season opposition.

Those tests, coming as the fitness and tactical work is stepped up in the coming days, will be more indicative for Rangers as they prepare for the visit of Livingston at the end of the month.

With a Champions League campaign also looming large, there is plenty of work to do in a decreasing amount of time. There was no place for summer recruit Nnamdi Ofoborh against Ian McCall’s side, but John Lundstram watched on following his arrival from Sheffield United and Fashion Sakala will join his new team-mates in the coming days.

Several hundred Jags fans returned home and took their seats at Firhill, while a handful of Gers supporters used the vantage point behind the stadium to see their side for the first time since that historic afternoon when the Premiership was celebrated.

There was little for those that watched on to get excited about in the first half. Thistle were as dogged as expected, while an unfamiliar Rangers side struggled to find any rhythm.

Their best chance fell to Jermain Defoe as he collected a neat pass from Glenn Middleton and saw his shot saved at the near post. When Middleton had the opportunity to beat Jamie Sneddon himself, he didn’t have the required quality or composure as a miscued effort was skewed wide of target from a promising position.

Thistle, with a couple of fixtures under their belt already this summer, were competitive and perhaps unfortunate not to be ahead at the break.

The best save of the opening 45 minutes came from Robby McCrorie as he got his fingertips to a header from Brian Graham. The striker would connect with another Richard Foster cross later in the half and his effort this time was narrowly off target as Rangers survived a scare.

On a night where there were more important factors than the result, the performance wouldn’t have been of particular concern to Gerrard at that stage.

McCrorie was the only one that re-emerged for the second half as some of Rangers’ bigger hitters – including captain Tavernier and SFWA Player of the Year Steven Davis – got their first minutes of the new campaign.

A low strike from Cedric Itten that forced a smart save from Sneddon was better from Rangers and there was more intensity about Gerrard’s side as the rain fell at Firhill.

It wasn’t a chance that Rangers would build on, though. Thistle caused few problems for McCrorie, but the champions continued to toil in the final third.

The action was low-key and a typical friendly fixture. Sneddon held a long-range effort from Kemar Roofe, while the striker saw a low strike clip the post after a neat touch and turn on the edge of the area.

Tavernier would strike the woodwork from 12 yards after a free-kick hit the wall and saw him awarded a penalty. It only delayed Rangers’ breakthrough.

A cross from Roofe was nodded down by Ianis Hagi and Itten finished well from close range to ensure Gerrard’s side got their summer schedule off to a winning start.