With Trevor Steven an unexpected absentee due to a hamstring problem, and Gary Stevens, Alexei Mikhailichenko, Nigel Spackman and Dale Gordon also on the sidelines, the champions suffered a further blow when Dave McPherson left the fray after just half an hour with a groin strain.
No matter - Rangers simply summoned another international, Oleg Kuznetsov, from the bench, and the Ukrainian played his part (in an unfamiliar midfield role) in subduing a determined St Johnstone side. The men from Perth did not yield until 10 minutes from time when, predictably, Ally McCoist popped up with the winner.
The 300 or so punters at Stair Park, Stranraer, endured two hours without a goal as a first- round Skol Cup tie against East Fife went to extra time and then a penalty shoot-out, which the home side won 5-4. However, they witnessed four red cards - over half the day's total - as Steve Evans, Jim McCann and Tony Gallagher of Stranraer and Paul Taylor of East Fife all failed to last the distance. The season of goodwill did not last long . . .