The 41-year-old's effort comes just nine days after booking a spot for the British Open by finishing second in a qualifier at Woburn, and he will return to Royal Birkdale next week, where he finished second in 2008.
But, as ever, he was keen to look on the positives of the past two days rather than the negatives.
"I guess as good as any was to try and find a little better form going into the majors as the a year ago and a half or so, I haven't played as well in the majors as I would have liked, and we all put so much focus on the majors now".
"I'm just waiting for something, some sort of spark, something to go right, and the last couple weeks haven't been like that". But it's not like I'm shooting 76s and 77s.
Noren's compatriot and reigning Open champion Henrik Stenson has work to do if he is to go into his title defence on the back of a good result after going round level par, and Patrick Reed could only match McIlroy's disappointing effort. I'm looking at this week as a confidence building week for the former world number one and if he can get some good feelings on the greens it bodes well for Birkdale.
Still, for all his obvious disappointment, McIlroy is surely correct to say he not far from producing better form.
They probably haven't both been in contention for the same title since Harrington kept hold of the Claret Jug, but what a lovely prelude it would be for the biggest week of the golfing year if we get something of a re-enactment this weekend. Take his play on the 430-yard par-4 13th. I hit some better wedges today, but still room for improvement. There was so much sand in that bunker. "But it still didn't come out". Having undergone surgery on a neck problem in March, he subsequently feared for his career after a freak incident involving an amateur who was being given a lesson by the three-time major champion. Trump appears to be far too controversial for the event to consider picking his course. I'm missing cuts but I'm just on the wrong side of doing something quite good.
"One more tournament isn't going to change you and I'd hate to be that guy".
When asked if he was surprised to see his name at the top of the leaderboard at Dundonald Links in an event boasting 16 of the world's top-50, he replied: "I'm not even close to being surprised". I call it the fifth major but I have only played in one major which was The Open in 2009.
He crashed to pour over par after just four holes - and despite repairing some of the damage to finish with a two over par 74, he is already playing catch-up.