Rangers have booked their place in the last eight of the Scottish Cup after a routine victory over Ayr United at Ibrox. Goals in either half from Borna Barisic and Fabio Silva were enough to secure progression for Philippe Clement’s side.

It was a low-key outing, though. Rangers were worthy winners but the performance left a lot to be desired and Clement will demand better when Rangers return to Premiership action against Ross County in midweek.

That fixture is, of course, their game in hand over Celtic and top spot in the standings is within their sights. If Rangers are to scale the summit, they will have to raise their levels. This wasn't exactly a classic encounter.

A Scottish Cup slog

So much of the talk surrounding Rangers, both during the transfer window and since it closed, has centred on their goal return. The question over whether Clement’s side have enough game changers and match winners in their ranks will only be answered come the end of the campaign. Rather than focus on one individual, it will need to be a collective effort for Rangers. It would have pleased Clement, then, to see the opener arrive from an unfamiliar source as Barisic lashed home a shot that beat Robbie Mutch at the near post.

It was the moment that gave Rangers the lead at the break. Ayr had their moments to encourage an impressive travelling support but it was largely one-way traffic. Had it not been for a smart save from Mutch, Barisic would have had his second just before the whistle and the game would have been beyond the Honest Men after just 45 minutes.

A miss from Ben Dempsey shortly after the interval was Ayr’s best opening but he fired wide from inside the area. It was no surprise that Clement turned to his bench an hour in, just after James Tavernier had headed wide. Ridvan Yilmaz, Rabbi Matondo and Todd Cantwell were introduced. John Lundstram soon followed.

Thankfully, so did the second goal. Cantwell almost found the far corner with a delicate chip and Matondo couldn’t force it over the line. Silva swivelled and fired home from close range as a VAR check didn’t deny Rangers. That was that.

Cortes catches the eye once again

The names of Cortes and Diomande were given warm receptions when they were read out ahead of kick-off. This has always looked like the ideal fixture for them to come into the starting line-up and Clement duly obliged. He confirmed on Friday that neither were fit to get through the 90 minutes but it made sense to get them on the pitch from the start.

This was a third appearance for Cortes and a full debut for Diomande as they were given the chance to make a positive impression on a support that are enthused about what they will bring to the side. Clement warned pre-match that fans shouldn’t ‘expect miracles’ from the pair as they get up to speed. That process will have been aided by their outings here.

Cortes was certainly the more impressive of the two. A curling effort that clipped the post was an early sign of intent and the move of cutting in from the left was one he used to real effect. It was from that left channel that he provided the assist for Barisic after a cross was blocked and he also stung the palms of Mutch during a bright opening to the game.

Cortes was the main danger to Ayr. He was quick over the ground and was direct, showing good versatility to go down the line or come inside. It has been a case of so far so good for the Colombian and he was awarded Man of the Match.

Diomande was not as eye-catching during his hour but it has to be remembered that he is at a lower level of fitness and sharpness following his move from FC Nordsjælland. He connected sweetly with an effort that was just wide of the near post early in the second half. Overall, it wasn’t enough to stake a claim for a start against Ross County but it was an encouraging and useful outing for the Ivorian.

Raskin needs to move through the gears

This was Raskin’s first minutes since the win over St Mirren last month. On that occasion, he got less than an hour under his belt. A few days previously, he was forced off at the interval as Clement’s side won at Easter Road. This was, then, an important outing for the Belgian.

The injury that kept Raskin out of action for around two months could not have come at a worse time for him or for Rangers. It left Clement without a much-needed option in the middle of the park and denied Raskin a run when he would have been an influential operator. His return has coincided with the likes of Ryan Jack and Tom Lawrence also being available once again, while the acquisition of Diomande and form of Lundstram pose other problems for the former Standard Liege star.

This was a solid and steady but somewhat unspectacular outing. A couple of wayward passes in were symptomatic of Raskin being unable to really assert himself on proceedings and the quality just wasn’t there when it was needed most. He was somehow penalised for a challenge on Paddy Reading. Thankfully for Rangers, the undeserved free-kick didn’t come to anything.

A partnership with Ryan Jack is never going to be the most dynamic but there was a feeling that Raskin had another gear to move into and that will only come with games. It will be interesting to see when his next chance arrives. Leon King took over in midfield for the final seven minutes.

Keeper should have been changed for the cup

Clement made the most of the chance to rotate the team as seven changes were made overall. One of the more obvious decisions wasn’t made, though, as Jack Butland continued between the sticks. Once again, Robby McCrorie had to watch on from the bench. It has been a frustrating campaign for the Auchenhowie graduate and being overlooked here would have been a sore one, especially after starting in the win at Dumbarton in the previous round. Chances to play have been few and far between this term. If McCrorie can’t get a game against lower league opponents in the Scottish Cup, then when is he going to be seen again?

On one hand, he cannot argue. The form that Butland has been in stands him out as arguably the best player in Scotland so far this season. On the other, McCrorie is right to feel that his patience and professionalism should have been rewarded on an afternoon where the man with the gloves was not going to be the deciding factor. McCrorie is a fine option for Clement to have but the time will come – for the good of his career - when he needs to be more than a squad player.

Brown and Collum avoid hot Ibrox reception

It was an evening for potential pantomime villains at Ibrox. With Scott Brown in the Ayr dugout and Willie Collum the man in black, the home crowd were split over who to direct their ire at. It was the referee who got it first as a chorus of ‘if you hate Willie Collum clap your hands’ was started by the Union Bears inside three minutes. It didn’t really catch on around the ground.

Clement insisted on Friday that he was pleased that Collum was the official for this tie. As far as the Ibrox boss is concerned, the furore and fall-out from the Old Firm defeat has been consigned to the past. His comments about the request that Collum doesn’t take charge of Rangers in the future were intriguing and showed his leadership and authority.

Few within Ibrox agreed with Collum’s call to show a yellow to Silva for a challenge on Nick McAllister. The Portuguese avoided a second for an incident involving George Stanger that the respective managers disagreed on. The cards for Roy Syla, after a tug on Diomande, and Mark McKenzie for catching Connor Goldson were straightforward decisions.

The one that was brandished towards Brown provoked an amused reaction from the home crowd and the man himself was unperturbed after being penalised. Brown soon came in for some treatment from those in the corner of the Broomloan Stand as he kicked every ball and looked to be enjoying himself. His return to Govan ended in defeat but he could be proud of his players.