Ally McCoist rolled over and answered. The Rangers manager needs an alarm call in the same way that his club seeks another tax bill. However, the voice on the other end of the line was a welcome interruption into a night, a day, a week of extraordinary anxiety for a manager facing threats to the very existence of his club in his first season in the post.
Walter Smith, on holiday in the USA, had called to have a natter. ''It was a four in the morning job and he woke me up, but given the way I have been feeling it could have been anytime,'' said McCoist. ''It wasn't the best time to get me.''
The details of the conversation will remain secret but the very fact of the phone call would be welcome to the manager, and to those who look on and wonder with some concern at the burden he is carrying.
McCoist has become the voice of Rangers. It is a job he never sought but it is one that has fallen to him. His credentials for the post are undeniable. He is intelligent, articulate and Rangers' supporter.
However, it is a role that makes demands beyond the capacity of one man. The boardroom is silent. The players, perhaps forgivably given they face redundancy, will not speak. McCoist was thus left on Saturday to sift through a dispiriting defeat with one section of the press before offering to answer fresh questions from the representatives of the Monday newspapers.
Standing in the tunnel at Ibrox, he spoke openly of what will be a difficult week in an awful period for the club. He is consoled by the closeness of friends. "Of course he has been in touch,'' he said of his conversations with Smith that started with the early call from America. "He is as disappointed as the next Rangers man. I make absolutely no apology for the fact that him and I will be having conversations. Not only was he part of my own career, he is also a great friend and knows this club better than anybody. It would be a nonsense and absolutely crazy for me not to talk with Walter Smith.''
The chats have been continuing on ''a regular basis''. They will not have been short on subject matter. McCoist, too, has been bolstered by other friendships. "I have had great support. I have a great family and very good friends. That is the support mechanism I have and it couldn't be better,'' he said. "I haven't had to turn to anybody. To be honest, the vast majority of my colleagues have turned to me, as I would have expected and hoped for.''
He needs succour as Saturday was another desperate day for the club. The frenzied support from the stands descended dreadfully into the worst of the Ibrox songbook. There was the expressed hate of ''F****n b******s'' and the description of Iain Brines, the referee, as the ''F****n in the black''. This was made even worse by the immediate realisation that this was not the product of a small minority in the crowd. This was loud and ugly.
Matters on the field were the focus of McCoist and he must have been dismayed at what he witnessed. There could be questions about refereeing decisions over a David Healy ''goal'' and a Lee McCulloch header that found the net after a corner. These should not disguise the paucity of Rangers' efforts on Saturday.
The sending-off of Sasa Papac almost epitomised the frustration of the hosts in trying to deal with a Kilmarnock side that appeared technically superior. As McCoist looked on to a pitch where he played with talents such as Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup, he was forced to watch hapless Mervan Celik, whose first touch was so gauche that his second touch was the ball smacking his face.
More worryingly, this was a side that seemed to lack spirit. There was energy, certainly, but where was the bite, the snarl and the sheer grit to push the side back into the game? It is unrealistic to expect Rangers to have a Laudrup or a Gascoigne but where were the John Browns or the Alex Raes who could galvanise the team and enthuse the support?
There were pass marks for a few Rangers players but most fell short of what should be expected at Ibrox. There is a mood to forgive the players, given the strains of administration, but this was a performance that was recognisable to anyone who has watched the side regularly over the past few months.
The absence of Steven Naismith, through injury, and Nikica Jelavic, now at Everton, has left Rangers threadbare in attack. The midfield lacks purpose or drive, with Maurice Edu only occasionally inserting himself into play and Steven Davis enduring a wretched period of form. There is no pace or penetration out wide, with Sone Aluko's brightness being a flickering presence rather than a telling one.
In defence, Allan McGregor is blameless while the full-backs are journeymen. McCoist has always taken consolation in his central defence of Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra. However, both were disturbed by the movement of Paul Heffernan and the promptings of the excellent Dean Shiels. Kilmarnock regularly threatened Rangers with only the lack of a final, killer touch preventing them from increasing their lead after Shiels scored with a casual brilliance after 12 minutes.
Goian was removed on 21 minutes almost as an act of mercy. The Romanian was confounded by the runs of Heffernan and once even muscled off the ball by the slight Irishman. McCoist said later he took off his central defender as the player had been suffering from the after effects of illness.
"The situation with Goian was that he's had a fever and has basically been in his bed for three days,'' said McCoist. "I chatted with him this morning and he was very keen to play which, as you can imagine, is highly commendable. But he was obviously not anywhere near fit enough and I fully accept the responsibility of starting him and taking him off."
McCoist is ''fully accepting the responsibility'' of everything at the moment. It is the mark of the man. It must not be the unmaking of him, too.