A turbulent week for Rangers ended in further disappointment as they crashed to defeat to Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in their first match since being forced into administration.
The official attendance confirmed that 50,268 fans packed into Ibrox to show their backing for manager Ally McCoist and his players during the club’s darkest hour.
However, Dean Shiels grabbed the only goal of the game to inflict Rangers’ first home defeat of the season in the SPL, with a red card for Sasa Papac adding to the misery.
Rangers made one change for this contest, with Kirk Broadfoot replacing Kyle Bartley. That meant there was no place for Daniel Cousin, after the Scottish Premier League last night blocked the striker’s registration due to the club’s financial position.
Kilmarnock were without the suspended Dieter van Tornhout for the sold-out clash.
The Rangers fans were keen to generate an atmosphere to rival that of an Old Firm derby and the home side responded early on by carving out the first real chance.
Kilmarnock were forced into last-ditch defending when Garry Hay cleared a Lee McCulloch header off the line.
But it was the visitors who took the lead when Dorin Goian slipped, allowing Shiels to fire a low shot past Allan McGregor after 12 minutes.
The Light Blues could have hit back when Carlos Bocanegra nodded just over the bar from a Sone Aluko corner.
Rangers thought they had hauled themselves back into the game when David Healy had the ball in the back of the net after 24 minutes, but the offside flag was raised.
Aluko then sent a free-kick just over from 22 yards after McCulloch was fouled by Michael Nelson.
However, Kilmarnock still looked dangerous and James Fowler saw his effort flash across goal and just wide.
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell then had to react quickly to block an Aluko effort and smother on the line.
Rangers were dealt a further blow when Papac was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Liam Kelly after 42 minutes.
Gers boss McCoist made a change at the interval, with Mervan Celik replacing Healy.
But it was Kilmarnock who almost added to their lead when Mohamadou Sissoko collected a Fowler cross and drove just over the crossbar.
Salim Kerkar was introduced to the action for Broadfoot, before Aluko blasted well over as the search for an equaliser became more desperate.
Home supporters were cheering when McCulloch bulleted home a header from Aluko’s corner after 68 minutes – but again they were denied a goal after referee Iain Brines ruled there had been a foul in the goalmouth area in the build-up.
The fans attempted to rouse the players in the closing stages but Rangers were unable to find the leveller, leaving Celtic now in a position to extend their lead at the SPL summit to 17 points with victory over Hibernian on Sunday.
Rangers McGregor, Broadfoot (Kerkar 58), Goian (Perry 20), Bocanegra, Wallace, Aluko, Davis, Edu, Papac, Healy (Celik 45), McCulloch.
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Wylde, Hemmings, McCabe.
Sent Off: Papac (43).
Kilmarnock Bell, Toshney, Sissoko, Nelson, Gordon, Fowler, Kelly, Johnson (Dayton 74), Hay, Shiels (Racchi 90), Heffernan.
Subs Not Used: Letheren, Silva, Kroca, McKeown, Kennedy.
Booked: Toshney, Gordon.
Goals: Shiels 12.
Att: 50, 268
Ref: Iain Brines (Scotland).