The impossible dream was snatched out of Clyde's hands at Broadwood in front of a nationwide television audience as Rangers eased through to the fourth round of the Tennent's Scottish Cup with a late blast of goalscoring.
Yet for 13 brief, glorious, delirious minutes Clyde and their supporters touched the sun after taking the lead in the 53rd minute. Ultimately they may have been brought to earth, but nevertheless deserved their moment of glory for a performance which belied their position near the foot of the Second Division.
With Charlie Nicholas, the former Celtic, Arsenal and Aberdeen striker, displaying touches of yesteryear to inspire his team-mates to heroic efforts, Clyde threatened for that brief period to embarrass the seven-times champions of Scotland.
Clyde's goal resulted from an inspired move of which Rangers themselves would have been proud. Tommy Harrison, one of Scottish football's journeymen who at the age of 20 has seen service under five managers, swept upfield with a series of one-twos, then delivered the ball to Nicholas who flighted a cross to the head of Ian Angus, whose deft flick took the ball beyond the grasp of Andy Goram.
At that stage Rangers were heading for the biggest Scottish Cup upset since their defeat by Berwick Rangers in 1967 and they became increasingly disjointed as their frustration became evident.
It fell upon young Charlie Miller to turn the match for Rangers. He struck twice within seven minutes before two further goals put the tie beyond salvation for the home side.
Miller's first, in the 66th minute, was a low drive from 12 yards after a Craig Moore cross had been deflected, and then the midfielder was on hand in the 73rd minute to score from close range from a Peter van Vossen cross.
At that stage there was still enough fight in the Clyde side to indicate that they had not given up hopes of forcing a replay but Paul Gascoigne took a hand to ensure Rangers would go into Saturday's quarter-final draw.
In the 81st minute his incisive pass found Brian Laudrup on the right and his cross was touched in by Van Vossen for his first goal for the Ibrox club. Within seconds Gascoigne added a fourth with a delightful chip over the goalkeeper.
More good news for Rangers supporters came with the revelation that Laudrup has added another year to his contract, which already has one and a half years to run.
Clyde (4-4-2): Hillcoat; Ferguson (Prunty, 78), Thomson, Watson, Knox; Harrison (Nisbet, 75), O'Neill, Gillies, Angus; Nicholas, Annand (Patterson, 83).
Rangers (3-4-1-2): Goram; Moore, Petric, McLaren; McCall, Gascoigne, I Ferguson, Robertson; Laudrup; Van Vossen, Miller. Substitutes not used: Durrant, Brown, Scott (gk).
Referee: K Clark (Paisley).Reuse content