They have all the clout of relative wealth and the second highest wage bill of any club in the country. They have all the clout of an enormous support fanatically willing them to succeed. Yet for all the advantages of this bulk and power they punch like kittens because their first team is so weak, arguably the poorest the club has ever had.
Some fans revealed a "give them hell at Tannadice" banner at the most recent game at Ibrox, which looked like a pretty ambitious instruction to a team playing out a 1-1 draw with Montrose.
On Tayside, the misplaced arrogance of it became laughable. There will be a time when Rangers' strength fully returns, their usual place in the natural order will be reclaimed and their desire to give Dundee United a serious going-over will have some basis in realism, but it won't be with the players currently wearing the colours.
The season began with manager Ally McCoist saying he wanted a team to win the Irn-Bru Third Division and ensure Rangers could be competitive when they met Clydesdale Bank Premier League opposition in the cups, but the latter has been well beyond them. It is when they meet top-flight teams that the dulling effect of playing in the fourth tier is exposed.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle brushed them aside in October in the Scottish Communities League Cup at Ibrox and the intensity and deadliness of United's game similarly overpowered them at Tannadice. Impressive character and desire underpinned Rangers' deserved victory over an intimidated Motherwell in September although, in truth, even that performance was patchy and flawed. Going out of the two main cups on a 0-6 aggregate shows where Rangers stand.
Winning the majority of their games in the league and being 19 points clear at the top of it, while playing in front of their usual huge crowds, can give a superficial impression of "normality", as if this is a Rangers team simply decanted in the wrong division.
Lee Wallace seemed to touch on that when he spoke the other day of feeling as though he had become a better player this season, as if unaware of the possibility that his perceived improvement may be attributed to facing slower and poorer opposition every week. Against United he was exposed at all three goals. He did not deal with a long ball to Jon Daly in the build-up to the first, played the United striker onside at the second, and did not anticipate Johnny Russell's movement at the third.
Wallace was not Rangers' worst performer. Emilson Cribari and Ross Perry were utterly unconvincing, and Sebastien Faure awful at right-back. Ian Black, David Templeton, Dean Shiels and Francisco Sandaza offered nothing. Rangers' team had seven SPL players, five of them full internationalists, had a higher average age and a higher average wage than the United side. The performance was awful. Even when they had most of the ball for a long spell of the second half they did nothing with it.
The late collapse of their discipline was predictable as frustration overwhelmed them at 3-0 in the dying minutes. Kal Naismith was rightly sent off for a horrible tackle on Willo Flood. Black was given a harsh yellow card on 76 minutes after getting away with two earlier challenges which should have earned bookings, then got his marching orders for a tackle on John Rankin. Black was signed to lead this Rangers side, but Tannadice saw only his anonymity and petulance.
United revelled in it all, their first home win since August, first clean sheet in nine games, and first under manager Jackie McNamara.
What a fine partnership he has in Daly and Russell. Daly won just about every ball aimed at him and two of his flick-ons resulted in Russell's goals. Russell is simply too bubbly, strong and dangerous for United to have any hope of keeping him this summer. Daly, also likely to leave as he will be out of contract then, claimed the middle goal by pulling away from the disorganised Rangers back four to head past Neil Alexander.
Russell's opening goal after only 15 seconds sucked all the focus away from the Rangers fans' boycott, and the United supporters' baiting of the 365 who defied it, and planted it on the previously underplayed reality of the match itself. After that, United's superiority was never in question.
"It felt like everybody forgot there was a game of football happening," said Flood. "It was all about what this chairman was saying or that chairman or fans' group was saying. I think it showed that we were just concentrating on the game and we got a good result because of that. Hopefully now everybody will be talking about Dundee United having a game plan, getting the ball down and passing it, and deservedly winning the game. We were all fired up. The manager said to us that we should just go out and express ourselves, and enjoy it."
The result extended a remarkable sequence. United have now won the last five Scottish Cup ties between the clubs, beating Rangers in 1994, 2001, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The first four of those were upsets.