Rangers’ 2-0 win in Perth was comfortable without ever touching on commanding but, after a fortnight of noise following two costly defeats, Michael Beale will have travelled back down the A9 relatively pleased with his side’s efforts.

“I think just a little more on the last connection in the final third,” he told Sky Sports afterwards when quizzed on what he still wanted to see improve.

“It's a step in the right direction, there were moments I was really happy with and others we've got to work on.”

Jack Butland wasn’t called into action once, although it took the visitors time to find a second as the tempo dropped following the opener. Danilo made an immediate impact starting for the first time in five matches before injury forced him off, while Rabbi Matondo matched his latest arrival into a tightly-poised game with incision to seal the points.

What was the approach?

Beale made six changes to his starting 11 with slight adaptations to the opponent, admitting after that he wanted his side to target areas around the centre-backs. As shown in the below pass network, Rangers utilised a very obvious 4-2-3-1 in possession with Nico Raskin joining John Lundstram at the base of midfield, Tom Lawrence operating from the left and Sam Lammers the right. Kemar Roofe dropped off the front while Danilo, or later Abdallah Sima, occupied the last line.

Raskin, Lundstram and James Tavernier all spent time joining Connor Goldson and Ben Davies in a back three build-up shape, varying the occupation of different zones ahead, while Ridvan provided width constantly on the left.

“The aim was to play down the sides of the centre-backs with two strikers close together and I thought that won the game really,” Beale explained in his post-match press conference, where he also touched on the decision to replace Danilo with Sima’s running power.

The forward’s impact from the bench merited a goal contribution, with his assist for Roofe judged offside by the finest of margins and a run down the side of the defence soon after arriving into the game hitting the goalkeeper when a cut-back may well have proved the better option.

Importantly, as was a theme in each post-match interview, Butland didn't have one save to make and spare a couple of dangerous crosses, the hosts’ chance creation proved limited. “I think just a little more on the last connection in the final third [is needed],” Beale admitted afterwards. “That's what we need to keep working on. Defensively we're not giving up many chances.”

At times that security of control didn’t lend itself to the intensity of attacking display demanded amongst the support. As routine away wins go, however, this was up there.

A first goal that showed key themes

“It wasn't the first time we'd got down the side of St Johnstone and it's an excellent goal,” Beale said discussing Danilo’s opener after the game, a header which landed him in hospital with a fracture to his cheekbone.

As the manager admitted himself during a pre-match interview with Sky, questions have been posed about the system and style he’s building and this opener demonstrated some themes he’ll have enjoyed watching. With variation in the positioning of Lammers and Tavernier on the right posing different problems for St Johnstone, clear occupation of the penalty box and a quick attack from left to right.

READ MORE: Meet Danilo, Rangers' new arrival according to his ex-manager

Moments before the Brazilian’s header, Tavernier had found Lammers running forward in the half-space and although the Dutchman’s cross was blocked, Danilo’s position, free ahead of the opposition’s centre-back pairing, was a sign of things to come.

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Soon after, a sequence that started deep on the left ended up high on the right with the right-sided duo swapping roles and providing variation to find Danilo, who again evaded the attention of two centre-backs with his movement, providing an area for Taverneir to target his cross.

With St Johnstone’s centre-backs guilty of being pulled too far towards their goal, Roofe’s position at the back post prevented their right-back, Olufunwa, from closing down Danilo who again hung back to find himself free and head home.

Only a 0.10xG chance, the PSxG rating of 0.6 shows the power and direction Danilo was able to generate on Tavernier’s floated cross.

 “Yeah, it's something he's got in the box he's that type of striker with his movement. Kemar playing close to him as well, you've always got two in there and Tom's a good runner in the box. It was an area we targeted up and around their centre-backs,” Beale said on the goal afterwards. The proximity of two No.9s in the box and intentionality to work a better crossing position and higher chance quality, instead of firing in a delivery from deep, is a more encouraging sign than the deep crosses witnessed at points.

But is the chance quality high enough?

As the trendline depicts, it again took Beale’s side time to build chances and make this result a secure one, ending the afternoon with 1.79xG. He levelled that a stoppage following Danilo’s injury took some momentum out of the game. Rangers did enjoy total control and defended set-pieces well but there’s no denying that a greater level of attacking fluency still requires unlocking.

Sima perhaps could’ve squared his 0.33xG chance in the first half instead of testing the goalkeeper while the Senegalese forward, looking far more comfortable centrally than operating from the left, was centimetres offside for Roofe’s strike when he demonstrated real composure to cut the ball back.

 READ MORE: 'This guy has a Premier League profile' - Analysing winger with ex-coach

That aside, the area that Beale’s side still must work on is fashioning openings in periods of the game where defences sit in, with both goals on the day arriving in moments of transition. Matondo’s impact is, at present, more useful from the bench because of the game state he arrives into with space to attack. Even so, as his manager admitted, this is a chance he’s worked plenty of times before without a finish to follow. The 23-year-old is a picture of confidence in stark contrast to the demoralised figure of last season.

As the Rangers Review explored in greater detail with Cercle Brugge manager and Matondo’s coach during a season-long loan in Belgium Miron Muslic, this is a player who thrives from the left, needs confidence to show his best form and can prove absolutely deadly in moments of transition. There’s still a question as to how Matondo translates this impact into a starting spot but his role as a ‘finisher’ instead of a ‘starter’ has proved very effective in domestic matches to date. Beale’s substitutions, bringing on Sima and Matondo, swung the game in the Ibrox side’s favour.

Any other business?

Davies received multiple namechecks from his manager after the game. In his first appearance of the season, he was solid defensively and showed off a well-known array of passing options. With mistakes a feature of Rangers’ defence this season, the prospect of returning to a Goldson-Davies pairing which did offer periods of solidity last season looks like a real prospect.

Raskin’s ball-carrying for the second goal was brilliant. The Belgian is arguably Beale’s best dribbler behind Matondo and fielding him centrally allows Rangers to cut through the pitch quickly. It’s clear in moments that the 22-year-old still had areas to refine and mature. He can rush his passes when control is necessary, for example. After a mixed first month of performances, this performance was a real step in the right direction for Raskin. His press resistance and ball-carrying ability at the base of midfield enables the picture to change from this…

To this…

Finally, Lawrence, making his first start in over a year, completed 90 minutes and timed his assist for the second perfectly. After so long out, and given Todd Cantwell’s recent injury, the Welshman’s impact was all the more important.

This is the type of game that’s celebrated if a team is in a good run of form and has earned the trust of supporters. Conversely, Beale’s side remains very much still in that trust-earning process with no room to slip. Only consistent results, and performances, will change that.