Sandy Jardine shook Annan officials warmly by the hand after the game and thanked them for their hospitality. That welcome even extended to a handful of Rangers songs being played by the stadium announcer before kick-off.
Nothing is conventional about these occasions. Even if representatives of the Ibrox club are conscious of being respectful guests, away fixtures are becoming persistently humbling.
Every match will contain details that exasperate a manager. Genuine concern is only raised when they become recurring faults, and Rangers have now drawn all three of their away fixtures in the third division. A period of accommodation was always likely, but even the run of results is condemning, beginning with a 2-2 draw at Peterhead, then a 1-1 draw at Berwick Rangers, and now a 0-0 affair at Galabank.
Chances were created, but they tended to be haphazard. There was no overall sense of command to the visitors' play, despite the gulf in resources. Supporters and pundits tend to pore over tactics, as though the formation alone determines the outcome of a contest, but other factors are equally significant. The Annan players are part-time, but none were prepared to allow that to be the cause of any setback.
"We've been doing extra work away from training and after work or college," said Steven Swinglehurst, the centre-back who has just embarked upon a plumbing qualification. "Everybody's been doing that little bit extra to get their fitness to a peak. When you see [Lee] McCulloch walking out and see the size of him, it's easy to get overwhelmed. But you know that they're in the same league and you've got to give them a fight or you'll be over-run."
Rangers seem at a loss to explain their fallibilities. The attitude of individuals appeared fitting for the surroundings, and only Fran Sandaza looked as though he was labouring. The striker might not have expected to come off the bench after just eight minutes, but he continues to look short of match sharpness. He replaced David Templeton, who turned his ankle and was later taken to hospital. The player looked in obvious distress, and his departure also left the visitors short of width.
There was, instead, a collective lack of insight for Rangers to contend with. Dean Shiels and Barrie McKay did not receive enough possession to inflict themselves upon the home side, and the instinct was to pass the ball around unhurriedly. The measured pace allowed Annan to regain their defensive positioning, and penetrating that well-ordered shape proved difficult on such a tight pitch.
"We didn't get off to a quick enough start," said Ross Perry, the Rangers defender. "They made it difficult for us, but we made it difficult for ourselves by not playing the way we can do. I don't think any of the boys in the changing room are going to come out and say, 'I'm going to stroll through this', because we know it's not going to be easy. But it's the middle of September now, so we should have had enough time to get used to it."
Rangers need to establish a different mindset for away fixtures. The squad is of a higher standard, but it is not streetwise at this level. The physical nature of the game must be emphasised, forcing the play to a higher tempo, with greater urgency, so that part-time opponents are not able to settle down.
It took a save of exceptional quality to deny Rangers a late winning goal, when Alex Mitchell tipped Lee McCulloch's shot over from close range. But that moment was in itself chiding to Rangers, since it was their clearest opportunity but came with only minutes to spare. McCulloch spent most of the game trying to raise the spirits of the creative players around him.
Harry Cairney, the Annan manager, was relieved that it was not his side that suffered the heavy defeat that he believes Rangers will inevitably earn on the road. He was effectively underlining the extent of his own players' resolve, but Annan were entitled to feel satisfied. They refused to be overwhelmed by the occasion, but it was likely that they would rise above their normal level of performance when the week was spent anticipating Rangers' arrival, and several of the players were interviewed beforehand by foreign television crews.
"Everyone round the world knows Rangers," said Swinglehurst. "So it's a big result for the club."