Even when Dunfermline were reduced to 10 men after Andy Smith's 77th minute dismissal for his second caution, Kilmarnock never looked like making the breakthrough. Their bad day at the office was compounded by a miss in stoppage time from Mark Roberts after Paul Wright's set-up, but the substitute's nervous finish failed to find the net.
Many of the youngsters who streamed up to Rugby Park clutching their parents' hands were not even born when Kilmarnock descended into Scottish football's bottom division in 1986, never mind recall the club's last title win in 1965. However, it is a measure of the huge strides that the club has made since those dark days that they were savouring the prospect of easing past Rangers to the top of the table if they earned three points here.
What those expectant fans got for their backing in the early stages was a disjointed game fractured only by a spate of yellow cards. The victim in almost every occasion was Jerome Vareille, Kilmarnock's striker. Scott Thomson, Smith and Chris Templeman were all shown yellow cards within a six-minute period but each time the battered Vareille dusted himself down. The Frenchman almost made Dunfermline pay in the 28th minute but his glancing header struck the inside of the post and stayed out.
Craig Ireland could have made Kilmarnock regret failing to capitalise on their superiority when he was presented with a golden chance in the 43rd minute, but the Dunfermline player's touch betrayed his central defender status, missing the target from four yards out following Smith's knockdown.
Templeman should have given Smith a clear sight of goal in the 50th minute after a mazy run but sadly the teenager's pass lacked the precision to allow last season's top Scots-born marksman to do what he does best.
Ten minutes later, Wright almost broke the deadlock with a spectacular overhead kick from Ally Mitchell's cross, but the attempt flashed just inches past. Then, it was only a wonderful save by Gordon Marshall in the 72nd minute that stopped Smith's searing volley finding the top corner of the net.Reuse content