RANGERS looked more like undateables than undefeatables at Dunfermline yesterday as compatibility issues continue to cause concern for the Ibrox club.
Ally McCoist's champions brought the curtain down on a lossless SPFL League 1 campaign with a draw away to the runners-up, but the way they made hard work of earning a point - against a team featuring 11 changes from their last outing - casts an ominous shadow over the challenges that surely lie ahead.
As the Rangers board continue to struggle to win over many fans - reports disclosing chief executive Graham Wallace's alleged remuneration package hours before kick-off being the latest contentious issue - a red-card demonstration by supporter groups the Union of Fans and Sons of Struth was widely backed by the 4,000-strong away crowd at East End Park.
With the threat of such fan disenagement adding to an already ambiguous financial picture at the club, it's difficult to predict what players McCoist will have at his disposal next season, but it is clear additions are needed.
The jump Rangers will be required to make this summer will be much bigger than the one they took in their stride 10 months ago, but manager Ally McCoist was content to look back rather than forward yesterday.
"To get 33 wins from 36 games is fabulous," he said of the unbeaten campaign. "The players will look back in a few years' time and be extremely proud of what they have achieved. The staff are unbelievably proud. It's a fantastic achievement."
Yesterday's draw brought more of the same from a team that has done enough to stroll through League 1 without much spring in their step. They had the majority of possession and Cammy Bell remained a virtual spectator in goal, but Rangers struggled to muster any sort of real threat, with Dean Shiels' early second-half goal one of the few occasions they actually managed to hit the target.
For long spells they were frustrated by a resolute home defence, Arnold Peralta and Fraser Aird often being ushered away without too much effort. The former rarely got the better of left-back Alex Whittle, who was a constant annoyance to Rangers at both ends of the park, with his delivery providing the assist for his team's leveller.
On the odd occasion Rangers managed to conjure something up they were largely wasteful. Early in the first half Lee McCulloch fired straight at Ryan Goodfellow in the home goal from an Aird corner. Shiels dragged a half-volley wide from six yards after a deft knockdown from Ian Black and Bilel Mohsni crashed a header off the bar seconds before the interval.
It took Rangers only 34 seconds after the break to finally gain an advantage. Jon Daly chested the ball to Nicky Law, who jinked inside the box to fire low at goal from 10 yards. Goodfellow did well to get down low to parry, but Shiels was on hand this time to slot underneath the goalkeeper.
However, the breakthrough did not have the effect of opening the floodgates as Dunfermline held their nerve, bided their time and took their chance when it came after 69 minutes.
Just after Law had a header ruled out for offside, Whittle flighted in an inviting corner and Lewis Martin thundered a header in off the underside of the bar from 10 yards for the equaliser. Rangers almost found a winner late on but Black's deflected cross cannoned off a post.
"I've nothing but admiration for the way our players stuck to their task," said Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies, whose side now face Stranraer in the play-offs. "We played some good football and they made everyone at the club proud."