Aberdeen came to bite, scratch and basically do everything in their power to stop Rangers from playing their normal game. They grabbed hold of Rangers jersies, they obstructed at every opportunity and they committed fouls when they had to.
It was the only way they were going to leave Ibrox without conceding a deluge of goals. They succeeded in the fact that Rangers only won by two goals but it simply indicates the almighty chasm which now exists between two clubs who used to be the deadliest of rivals.
Aberdeen are quite simply a pathetic shadow of the side they used to be. Sure, they have a young team but these young players have been together for a while now.
At no time did they look like causing Rangers a problem never mind scoring a goal. Rangers had enough possession and last-third action to really bury the Dons and that was a disappointment to the packed Ibrox crowd.
However, in the end it is victory that matters and Rangers achieved it to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. Ronald de Boer also maintained his scoring ratio by notching in his third successive SPL match while Barry Ferguson made absolutely sure of the points with a textbook penalty kick 14 minutes from time.
In fairness to Aberdeen, there seemed to be some dubiety whether the ball struck Kevin McNaughton on the arm or the shoulder as he blocked the ball on the line after Peter Kjaer had made a mess of trying to punch Mikel Arteta’s corner away but referee John Unhderhill was in no doubt that the arm was used.
The Dons man was issued with a straight red card to follow a first half yellow card and, of course, the ignominy of being singled out Berti Vogts as a main offender in Scotland’s 1-0 defeat by Denmark. Not the best of weeks for young McNaughton.
Rangers were infinitely sharper, more inventive and more technically gifted than the Dons but in the end they only had two goals to show for their superiority.
Apart from giving Rangers the lead, de Boer was excellent up front. He held the ball up really well and dazzled the Dons defenders with his ability on the ball to continue his good start to the season.
Mikel Arteta was again mighty impressive in the midfield where his craft and guile were too much for Aberdeen but it was the ever-improving Fernando Ricksen who came out the game with the most credit.
The Dutchman is simply relishing his midfield role where he utilises his seemingly boundless energy to tremendous effect. He has the ability and pace to get past defenders and his crossing is excellent.
He is offering real balance to Alex McLeish’s side right now and the signs are he will remain in his new role for the foreseeable future.
That said, the opening goal in 29 minutes came as a result of excellent wing play from Peter Lovenkrands on the left side and there were similarities to the first goal at Easter Road a week ago.
Lovenkrands had more to do this time as he twisted his way through the Dons defence on the left side of the box and then hit a low cross which Shota Arveladze cleverly left for de Boer, who finished with clinical efficiency.
It was the least Rangers deserved after dominating from the outset, but they found Aberdeen too stubborn to break down.
The lack of penetration was Alex McLeish’s only real complaint in an otherwise comfortable win. It as the perfect game for Bob Malcolm to come in for the injured Lorenzo Amoruso as he had virtually nothing to do.
There will, of course, be much sterner tests ahead including next week’s trip to Dunfermline but Rangers are showing some good form right now which certainly augurs well.
RANGERS: Klos; Muscat (Ross 83), Malcolm, Moore, Numan; Ricksen, Arteta (Latapy 83), Ferguson; de Boer, Arveladze, Lovenkrands (Flo 61)
Subs not used – McGregor, Konterman.
Bookings: Lovenkrands (16), Malcolm (18)
ABERDEEN: Kjaer; Deloumeaux, Anderson, McGuire, McAllister; McNaughton, Darren Young (Clark 73), Derek Young (Mike 63), Tiernan, Mackie; D’Jaffo.
Subs not used – Preece, O’Donoghue, Payne.
Sent Off: McNaughton (76)
Bookings: McNaughton (31), Derek Young (54)
Ref: John Underhill.
Man of the match: Fernando Ricksen.