Calvin Bassey of Rangers. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Three losses in seven days made for increasingly bitter pills to swallow, but a defeat against a side currently languishing ninth in the Championship would have had red lights flashing and warning sirens wailing all around Ibrox.
Thankfully for the Gers, there was to be no meltdown, and any looming crisis was averted with the kind of cocksure ruthlessness that rendered the title race a no contest partway through last season.
Five goals without reply, including a brace for the returning Kemar Roofe, were enough to book a place in the third round of the League Cup, but more importantly, it allowed Rangers to rediscover some of the mojo that they’ve been so sorely lacking of late.
Picking a single standout performer from such an assured showing is never an easy task, kind of like picking the best chocolate in a tin of Quality Street. They’re all good, folks - just enjoy them.
But while the aforementioned Roofe staked a claim for a regular starting role up front and Joe Aribo put in such a masterful midfield display that his pass map looked like a Jackson Pollock painting come the final whistle, special praise has to be reserved for Calvin Bassey at left-back.
The youngster continues to face an unenviable task at Ibrox. There’s more chance of Kanye dropping DONDA anytime soon than there is of Steven Gerrard dropping Borna Barisic from his starting XI in the immediate future. But every time that Bassey is called upon, he delivers - and then some.
His performance on Friday was no different. Not only did he record two assists, including a superb cutback for John Lundstram’s opener in the second minute, but his overall game was mature, intelligent, and blisteringly powerful.
Bassey spends most of his time playing more like a second winger than he does a full-back. His willingness to overlap and occupy opponents in wide areas makes him a real handful, and his knack of pouncing onto loose balls and driving into open spaces is borderline nightmare-inducing from a defensive standpoint.
The 21-year-old delivered six accurate crosses against Dunfermline - the most he ever has in a Rangers shirt and more than Barisic has managed in any single game so far this season. Add to that five successful dribbles and 13 ball recoveries, five of which came in Athletic’s half, and you start to get an impression of just how omnipotent he can look at times out on that left flank. Bassey plays like an indefatigable octopus, except one of his eight tentacles is a cybernetic trebuchet that launches heat-seeking missiles into the 18-yard box.
On a night in which Rangers simply could not afford to lose, his performance was a big win.
Will it be enough for him to usurp Barisic as Gerrard’s first choice left-back? No, it won’t.
But little by little, Bassey is showing the quality of his pedigree in Glasgow, and his potential in undeniable.
If and when the time comes for his Croatian teammate to leave Ibrox, the Gers can rest easy knowing that they have a hugely promising heir apparent waiting in the wings.