RANGERS head into the Ramsdens Cup final against Raith Rovers a week today with their unbeaten SPFL League One record intact after salvaging a win against Arbroath.
Yet it is difficult to say whether this result will dent or raise the confidence of the Ibrox club's players ahead of their trip to Easter Road next weekend. It took a scrappy late strike from Fraser Aird with four minutes remaining to stop Rangers dropping their first points away from home in the league this season.
For a lengthy spell in the second half, after Paul McManus had cancelled out Jon Daly's opening goal, Paul Sheerin's side had looked the more likely to triumph. The hamstring injury that Daly limped off with in the closing stages is a serious concern for Rangers.
Ally McCoist made five changes to the starting line-up that defeated Brechin City 2-1 at Glebe Park six days earlier. Three of those were enforced. Midfielders Ian Black and Nicky Law were ruled out through injury while centre-half Bilel Mohsni was suspended once again.
Kyle Hutton and Robbie Crawford were paired together in midfield and Sebastien Faure was brought in to the backline alongside Lee McCulloch. Meanwhile, Calum Gallagher and Dean Shiels dropped to the bench and Arnold Peralta and Nicky Clark came in to start.
It was Daly who headed Rangers in front in the 19th minute. The striker timed his run at an Aird corner to perfection and left Sandy Wood in the Arbroath goal with no chance.
The home team, though, were by no means toothless in the final third and Bobby Linn forced a save from Cammy Bell soon after the goal.
The League 1 champions launched their Player and Young Player awards this week and Aird will be a contender for the latter. He showed why in the 28th minute when he unleashed a powerful drive from 30 yards that beat Wood only to rebound back off the underside of the crossbar.
In the first minute of the second half Michael Travis, the Arbroath right-back, nearly netted an own goal when he headed a Peralta cross on to his own crossbar. Yet Sheerin's side drew level on the hour mark after poor defending by the visitors, in the shape of a badly misjudged header by Faure back to his goalkeeper. McManus couldn't believe his luck and the Arbroath forward curled a shot beyond the clutches of Bell.
For a while, it looked as if Arbroath were set to record their first draw against Rangers at Gayfield since way back in 1938. But McCoist removed Crawford and brought on Gallagher in an attempt to reclaim the lead. The substitution had the desired impact. With four minutes left the young forward burst into the area and supplied Daly whose deflected shot was helped in by Aird.
Afterwards, McCoist's satisfaction was tempered by the injury to Daly. "It would be a major blow if he was to be ruled out [of the final]. We got him off before he could do any serious damage," he said.
Arbroath manager Sheerin spoke highly of his side. "I couldn't have asked any more from the players," he said. "It speaks volumes for the way we performed that [Rangers] were hanging on and if we had shown composure, we could have had the draw we deserved."