THE old cliches about winning individual battles and there be no easy games were there to serve as a warning for Rangers ahead of their meeting with Hearts on Sunday.

Come full-time, it was the messages about a draw feeling like a defeat and this being two points dropped rather than one gained that were the most pertinent of the well-versed lines for boss Steven Gerrard and his players.

Only time will tell what the true impact of the result at Tynecastle actually is and how costly it proves for Rangers. It can’t be allowed to undo the positives thus far.

This was a game that Rangers were expected to win and that, on form, they should have done. Yet there really are no easy games in Gorgie and when too many of the individual battles are lost, the chances of success diminish.

Gerrard questioned the mentality of his players post-match and the comments, which would no doubt have been stronger behind closed doors, would have been taken to heart by a team that didn’t have enough players at it against Craig Levein’s side.

Rangers had the momentum behind them and all the motivation required but fell flat as Hearts battled their way to a point. They deserved no less and Rangers deserved no more.

It will undoubtedly frustrate Gerrard. He knows how good Rangers can be on their day, but they find it difficult to dominate and dispatch teams away from home as much as they do when 50,000 cheer them on at Ibrox.

Every game, of course, is different and the technical and tactical challenges vary from week to week, but the levels cannot be allowed to fluctuate as much. Consistency of performance will breed consistency in terms of results, and only that will enable Rangers to challenge for the Premiership title.

Rangers moved top of the table before the international break courtesy of successive 5-0 wins as Aberdeen and Hamilton were swept aside with style. Both were fortunate that the respective defeats were not heavier as Gerrard’s side showed how impressive they can be as an attacking force.

But their performances on the road have been far less convincing, even though the wins have been racked up at the required rate, both in the Premiership and the Europa League.

The way that Gerrard’s side won in Midtjylland in the third of their qualifiers was almost the perfect away showing. Two lapses in quick succession cost them two goals on the night but never threatened to deny them victory, or a place in the next round.

The defending overall was resolute, while the middle of the park was patrolled and controlled, with Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack both excellent alongside the effective Joe Aribo. Rangers pressed in the right areas, broke with speed and precision on the counter and their finishing was clinical as Alfredo Morelos scored before the break and Aribo, Nikola Katic and Scott Arfield netted in the second half to earn a deserved and satisfying victory for Gerrard’s side.

The onus that night was not on Rangers to attack. Indeed, there was no great expectation that a win would even be secured against a decent Danish outfit just weeks into the new campaign.

It is a showing Rangers have not been able to produce in the Premiership, though, and their games on the road have been a slog rather than swashbuckling. Having got away with it until now, the fear was that, one day, they wouldn’t be able to haul themselves over the line.

The counter-attacking game that Gerrard used so well back in early August doesn’t really suit domestically, certainly against the likes of St Mirren and Livingston when Rangers are expected to dominate possession and win comfortably more often than not.

The Gers have yet to really click away from home this term. Satisfaction is rightly taken from winning matches, but the manner of most of them hasn’t been that convincing.

It took a late Connor Goldson header to edge by Kilmarnock on the opening day of the campaign and Borna Barisic had to produce a moment of magic to see of St Mirren. A 3-0 win over East Fife was workmanlike, while the game at Livingston in the next round of the Betfred Cup was a tough watch as Rangers never found their rhythm on a night where Gary Holt’s side put themselves about, and overstepped the mark on occasion.

The biggest away victory so far was recorded at McDiarmid Park but even a 4-0 win doesn’t tell the whole story. Rangers were poor in the first half once again but a much-improved showing after the break earned all three points.

When domestic encounters turn into tousy, niggling affairs, Rangers don’t always make their class and quality show as much as it should. They have players capable of mixing it with a physical approach, but should ensure their superior skill shines through rather than allowing the opposition to dictate the tempo and style of the encounter.

In the coming weeks, Rangers will travel to Ross County, Livingston and Hamilton. In December, they visit Pittodrie, Fir Park and Easter Road before the second Old Firm clash of the season at Parkhead.

It is a run that could shape their title ambitions. If Gerrard’s side can start convincing away from home, more fans will start to believe they really have what it takes this term.