Points were dropped early in the league campaign, particularly away from home, but it was losing to Allan Johnston's Queens side at Ibrox that established the sense that the team would be vulnerable, psychologically as well as in terms of performance.
Rangers' team had been pulled together in challenging circumstances, but it was also still the product of the second highest wage bill in the country. Queens were working to a much smaller budget, but had already generated the momentum that was to carry them to a comprehensive triumph in the old Second Division title race. As much as the home side were fallible, Queens bristled with intent and confidence; they sensed the opportunity as Rangers began to falter, and the 2-2 draw after extra-time did not flatter them.
The same competition brings the two sides back together again this evening, but the circumstances are different. Although the teams are still separated by one division, and Rangers are stronger and more formidable by comparison, Queens are not in the midst of a winning streak and McCoist's side has started this campaign with purpose. There was a slip up at Forfar in the Scottish Communities League Cup, but otherwise they have begun steadily to overwhelm opponents.
There is wariness and respect in McCoist's analysis of the task facing his side, though. He will pick his strongest starting line-up for the game at Palmerston, not least because he understands the need to develop and entrench a winning attitude in his players. The team was too easily stricken last season, and a hardened self-esteem is necessary when supporters expect every domestic trophy to be challenged for. Making amends for last season's defeat is not at the forefront of the manager's thoughts, but it remains a source of regret.
"That [defeat], along with the four away [league] games [that were drawn], was a reality check," McCoist said. "I was sick after that game. A lot of people out with our club thought it was a shooty-in that we would go on and win that cup. We never felt for a minute that would be the case, and that was proved when we were put out by the team that eventually won it. As I keep saying, we've got miles and miles to go.
"It'll be tough [tonight]. They had a fantastic season last season - I thought they were one of the teams of the country, if not the team. There is absolutely no way that we would rotate the squad just for the sake of it. We'll put the strongest possible team in all of the games, for the foreseeable future. We want to win them all. It's certainly our toughest competitive game of the season so far."
Nicky Clark opened the scoring for Queens at Ibrox last year, and will now line-up for Rangers this evening. He impressed in the last meeting between the two sides, which was timely since McCoist was already aware of the striker's potential. At 22, Clark is still developing and he has played only a peripheral role in the early stages of this campaign, but his 41 goals last season are an indication of the instincts and precision he is capable of.
Clark was once emblematic of Queens: talented, confident, dynamic, young but undaunted. He has a different role to play at Rangers, where the likes of Jon Daly, Andy Little and Lee McCulloch have been scoring regularly or performing too impressively to be replaced. Clark might have to bide his time, but there might also be a chance to reassert his worth against some familiar faces.
"I'm still in touch with a good few of them," he said. "They had a great win against St Mirren in the [League Cup]. I'm sure they'll come into this in the right frame of mind. The stadium will be full and there will be a really good atmosphere. But if we go in the right frame of mind then I'm sure we will be okay. [The extent of any celebrations after a goal] will depend what stage of the game it is and what the score is."