Aside from last weekend’s 3-0 Old Firm win, the best two Rangers performances under Michael Beale had arrived in the capital before a second visit to Easter Road on Sunday.

Why? Space. In 3-0 and 4-1 wins at the start of the year, Hearts and Hibs pressed, pushed their full-backs high and paid the consequences against Rangers. Unable to really stunt the build-up, whenever possession was lost by the hosts, Beale’s men punished them down the sides with their narrow attacking set-up.

Take the second goal on that day in Edinburgh back in early March. Hibs lose the ball from a throw-in, with their back four highlighted, as Chris Cadden and Lewis Stevenson look to push high.

Because Rangers’ two forwards have remained high to capitalise on transitional moments, the visitors can immediately create a two-vs-two. Pulling centre-backs into the space down the side of the defence, where they don’t want to go.

The hosts' right centre-back, Fish, doesn’t have the pace to catch Sakala and Egan-Riley is recovering from a disadvantage. Allowing the Zambian free entry into the penalty box and time to pick out his delivery. 

Meanwhile, Colak can use the space down the side of the left centre-back, Paul Hanlon, in a different way. The Croatian still ‘outplays’ his marker but not by way of pace like Sakala. Colak has room to attack either side of the isolated Hanlon, with the free full-back slot buying him space.

This allows him to attack the space on the inside and make a near-post run, while Hanlon is literally looking over his shoulder anticipating a back-post move as Colak sets off.

What’s the point of raising this? Two-fold, to show how Hibs changed their approach and explain how Beale’s Rangers won in a different way - which is a real positive.

Last time out, the space for Rangers was on the inside but yesterday, the task was to manipulate the space left on the outside.

The home side were far more measured off the ball, reticent to leave space down the side of the defence at all.

Yesterday, Hibs played in a narrow shape, trying to match Rangers’ numbers around the ball and gambling on leaving space on the far side - that is the side of the pitch where possession isn’t being held - as a result.

It's a version of approach we could see teams increasingly use against Beale's Rangers.

Look at this frame as John Souttar plays a switch. Ridvan Yilmaz, pushing up from left-back, has the left flank to himself. Because Hibs are overloading the space around the ball on the right side, like Rangers, to prevent Beale's attackers from progressing in combination.

When they fell deeper, Lee Johnson’s men were visibly defending the centre and offering up the wings to Rangers.

They kept their full-backs far lower. On the right, Chris Cadden played at right midfield ahead of Egan-Riley at right-back, who remained narrow and close to his centre-back, Fish, trying to always show play on the outside. The right-back is circled below, with Ridvan unmarked. 

The majority of Hibs’ attacks were directed down their left, which also impacted their defensive approach.

They wanted to get Elie Youan isolated against Tavernier in the final third with Josh Campbell, Kevin Nisbet and Cadden attacking the ball at the back post, a ploy that almost came off when Nisbet headed wide in the first half.

Youan wouldn’t track Tavernier’s runs so that he could stay ahead of the captain and be handed a head start on the transition. Instead, the winger tried to block the direct passing lane into Tavernier.

Here's an example. With left-back Stevenson being pinned by Lundstram and staying close to his centre-back, Youan doesn't track Tavernier's run, attempting to block the passing lanes and remain higher.

Rangers Review:

READ MORE: Ianis Hagi on Rangers absence, injury return and living to win

This allowed Beale’s side the opportunity to find Tavernier, attract Stevenson to press and then make seam runs down the side through Lundstram, Cantwell and Sakala.

Hibs’ approach, overall, gambled on granting Rangers control of the wide areas because they don’t play with wingers - it's normally, but not exclusively, full-backs who occupy these wide zones.

The hosts' plan was to crowd out either side, as shown in the early minutes, and prevent Rangers from outnumbering around the ball and progressing through combination play.

Rangers Review:

However, this was a difficult intensity to keep up and Beale’s side did two things very well in response. Firstly, they stretched the pitch to dictate the width and move the opposition by moving the ball as frequently as possible.

In this example, both Lundstram and Jack have rotated into the back four to stretch Hibs’ first line of engagement.

Secondly, they made good use of the far side of the pitch. This is likely why Souttar played at right centre-back, his switches of play were the quickest, most direct way to target the far side of the defence. His pass map from the game is shown below.

And thirdly, they were unpredictable. Todd Cantwell, again fantastic, picked the ball up all over the park, as shown by his passes received map below.

Flexibility breeds unpredictability. This is one of the huge plus points of Beale playing with one or two free players - the opponent can’t script their defensive plan like they may double up on a winger.

As the game wore on, Rangers’ difference-maker started to learn that the best place to pick the ball up was out wide, where he could create a two-vs-one if possession was switched quickly enough.

After 15 minutes, Cantwell had only received three attempted passes in the two left channels, the left wing and the left half space. Compared to 15 attempted passes over the other three channels of the pitch. 

From 15 minutes to 45 minutes, he received 15 passes on the left side of the pitch compared to 15 in the centre and right side.

All of the above combined, in a way, to create the first goal. With Souttar playing a quick switch and Cantwell initially getting the better of Egan-Riley because the right-back was a narrow starting position. 

This time instead of Ridvan, it was Cantwell on the end of a switch and after a free-kick was won, Tavernier opened the scoring. 

Similarly, the second goal starts with Rangers stretching Hibs' first line of pressure and getting an extra man on the far side.

Notably, Egan-Riley is focused on protecting his centre-back. With Hagi, like Cantwell, only popping up on the left side in stages, does this unpredictability lead a marker to be less vigilant in such moments? Perhaps.

Increasingly, teams will come up with new ways to try and stop Beale's blueprint. Yesterday's win in the capital was a good sign that his Rangers have more than one way to win away from home.