AT half-time this Scottish Cup tie hung in the balance and a shock was far from an impossibility.
As one home supporter was heard to mutter at the interval: “We’ll never have a better chance of beating this lot.”
In the end, Rangers ran amok in the second-half, showing the character Murty had demanded pre-match to avoid his team becoming the story of this round.
Ian McCall’s Ayr United of League One were well beaten but by no means disgraced, despite losing six goals.
They scored themselves, showed some good stuff at times and at least tried to play a positive brand of football until running out of puff as the goals flew in at, for them, the wrong end.
Rangers were thoroughly professional and now have a home quarter-final against Falkirk which they will be strong favourites to win.
The first-half was a great watch.
From the off it was clear, if far from surprising, that Ayr were not going to be intimidated by their visitors. Lawrence Shankland and Craig Moore formed a two-man frontline. It was not a cautious formation.
But as so often happen, talent was too good for toil.
Declan John has been a fine addition at left-back for Rangers. He does love a run forward and on ten minutes his adventure took him up the field, past two Ayr players and his shot flew just wide.
However, within a minute, Rangers conceded a goal which by the time you read this will have been viewed many times on social media.
David Bates passed the ball back to his goalkeeper Wes Foderingham who in his attempt to take a touch allowed the ball to bounce past him towards his own line. He tried to get back and salvage the situation, but Alan Forrest reacted quicker and go there first.
Cue bedlam and some red faces in blue shirts.
Rangers quickened their pace in the minutes following the goal but the manner in which McCall’s players put their bodies in thee way of shots that it might just be a long day for Premiership side.
A free-kick straight in front of Ayr’s D, Andy Geggan went into Josh Windass from behind, presented Rangers with a good chance on 20 minutes. Sean Goss, who scored from a set-piece last weekend, fancied himself but the wall stood up to his shooting not once but twice.
The resultant corner was defended a couple of times before Russell Martin went close with a header.
If that was better by Rangers, their defending hadn’t improved much. Forrest sent a high cross into the box, Foderingham came to collect and under pressure from Shankland failed in his task. The ball broke to Declan McDaid who took it on the bounce but his shot was well over.
Rangers then began to play a bit of football. On 25 minutes, the ball was worked wide to James Tavernier, his cross was typically dangerous and Josh Windass met it with some force, only for his header to rattle the crossbar.
And then on 29 minutes, Rangers contrived to produce another ‘did that just really happen?’ moment.
Greg Docherty forced his way into the right hand side of Ayr’s box, he did the right thing by putting the ball across the six-yard box with a bit of pace because it beat everyone except Alfredo Morelos at the back post, he was unmarked and two yards from the goal-line, and yet the striker defied the laws of physics by sending the ball high into the delighted home support who rather vocally questioned whether the Rangers man was indeed worth £8m.
Morelos needn’t worry too much. I’m fairly sure YouTube is banned in China. Or is that Facebook?
Anyway, within a minute, the Colombian made amends when he converted a far more difficult chance.
The impressive Goss cracked a shot from the best part of 30 yards, the ball hit the corner of the woodwork, fell loose and with the outside of his right boot, Morelos found the top corner of the net.
He then, as is the fashion, invited those Ayr fans who taken so much joy in his misfortune to shush.
It was all square at half-time, but Aye ended the first period playing some good stuff of their own.
In saying that, Jason Cummings came close to a goal when he put his foot through the ball from close range, courtesy of Murphy’s cross from a corner, but Ayr keeper Jack Ruddy for his body in the way.
The players came back out of their dressing rooms to find had changed somewhat. The snow which has so far stayed away made a brief and spectacular visit.
It was Ayr who were to threaten first. The half was five minutes old when Shankland fed the ball to Moore inside the Rangers box, he in turn sent a lobbed pass into McDaid’s path and ,with no defender near him, he only had Forderingham to beat but the goalkeeper was off his line quickly and made a block.
Despite that bright start, Ayr found getting out of their half a task and within an eight minute spell, Rangers scored three times.
It began on 64 minutes when Murphy’s short corner found Goss, his cross was aimed at Cummings who, with his back to goal, showed great imagination to flick the ball home.
Before Ayr could get themselves together, the game was done.
John made his umpteenth charge from the back, he hit the byline and cut the ball back for Windass who made no mistake from eight yards, and the celebrations which greeted the goal suggested all was forgiven.
And then on 72 minutes the excellent Murphy’s low cross took out the Ayr defence which left Morelos with a tap-in.
But Rangers weren’t finished. Substitute Eduardo Herrara’s header got the fifth and then Murphy ran past several shattered players before delivering a superb finish for his first Rangers goal.
It was harsh on Ayr, not that Murty will care.