SPECULATION about how long Rangers could go without conceding a goal in the Premiership ended after just 21 minutes of their meeting with Hibernian when Drey Wright netted.

Now conjecture over whether they have the quality and mental strength to sustain a challenge for the Scottish title this season will begin.

The Ibrox club may have remained in first place in the top flight table after drawing 2-2 with one of the form teams in the country in an entertaining encounter at Easter Road that deserved a sell-out crowd there to see it yesterday.

Yet, Celtic, who had moved into top spot on goal difference courtesy of their 3-2 triumph over Livingston at home on Saturday, can now overtake them if they win their game in hand against Aberdeen.

The way that Rangers allowed Hibs to salvage a point after recovering well from their disappointing start, levelling through Alfredo Morelos before half-time and taking the lead courtesy of a well-worked Scott Arfield strike in the second-half, will have filled their followers with an overwhelming sense of foreboding.

The visitors created enough chances up front to win the game comfortably. They were thwarted on a few occasions by the brilliant Ofir Marciano. Not least when the Israeli goalkeeper produced an outstanding double save from Arfield late on.

There was always a danger that lack of ruthlessness in the final third would prove costly and it did; Christian Doidge rose above Filip Helander in the 71st minute, got on the end of a Martin Boyle cross and nodded beyond Jon McLaughlin.

The evidence provided by this 90 minutes did little to suggest Rangers have learned any lessons from their capitulations in the league in the past two campaigns and successfully addressed failings in their play.

Gerrard felt that Boyle had been in an offside position when he received the ball before the equaliser. But he was clearly exasperated at how carelessly his charges had performed and had no complaints about the final outcome. His criticisms were directed elsewhere.

“Game management is something we’ve been on to the lads about since we came in the door,” said Gerrard. “It’s very important at this level to get yourself in front. You can’t be passive and we were passive too much today. We worked ever so hard to get in front after going behind and had more chances to kill the game off.

“Our second goal was fantastic, one of the best goals we have scored. From that moment, we need to manage the game better. That’s where the frustration comes in. It’s two points dropped and we go away frustrated.”

James Tavernier and his fellow Rangers defenders have rightly received plaudits and praise for keeping clean sheets in their opening seven league games – and breaking a record that has stood for 114 years in the process – but they switched off at both Hibs goals yesterday.

Wright met a Boyle cut back with a powerful first-time shot that flew through the legs of McLaughlin. But he was given an abundance of both time and space in the opposition box to steady himself.

“The players, collectively and individually, have been outstanding up until today,” said Gerrard. “It’s the first time we’ve been off it from a defensive point of view. It’s something I will look into.”

Nothing, though, should be taken away from Hibs. They showed why they are just three points behind Rangers in the Premiership after eight outings with their performance. They will take confidence from their showing and will travel to Parkhead this weekend with hopes of causing an upset against Celtic.

Gerrard felt that match official Don Robertson could have shown both Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon red cards for their fouls on Morelos and Ianis Hagi in the first-half. Had one or both of the Hibernian centre backs been ordered off they would have struggled. But the final outcome didn’t flatter the home team.

Their manager Jack Ross made a tactical change after an hour, bringing on the experienced Lewis Stevenson for Josh Doig at left back, and was rewarded with the Doidge equaliser.

“We’ve flipped between a back three and a back four before this season,” he said. “Their willingness to do it during games, their understanding of how to do it, has been great. You need to have the personnel to do it and we’ve got that.

“I’m kicking myself a little bit because I was going to make the change prior to conceding the second goal. I didn’t. But still thought it was the right thing to do. We started to get a bit more of a foothold, started to create again, which we hadn’t done during the middle part of the game.

“Look, you can make any decision you want as a manger. The players are the ones who have to carry it out on the pitch. And they did that over the course of 90-plus minutes today.”

Hibs, who could have netted when Joe Newell whipped a delivery into the Rangers six yard box at 2-1, will cause a few teams problems at Easter Road and elsewhere in the months ahead judging how they acquitted themselves in this match.

But that will be little consolation to Rangers and their supporters after a sobering afternoon in the capital.