By the end, what rained down on Rangers was the terrible disquiet of their supporters. The team's performance was small, belittled by a lack of urgency and dynamism, so that all that remained was a sombre air. St Johnstone could celebrate the point but still regret some missed chances that would have earned a deserved victory, while Celtic made up ground in the title race.
It was the kind of day when the certainties of Rangers' season, the powerful sense of purpose, the limitless conviction, had to be reassessed. Without the injured Steven Naismith, they lacked energy and drive, while the two wide players – Alejandro Bedoya and Matt McKay – were peripheral, unable to make any significant impact against a St Johnstone team that grew in stature. "That was a very disappointing performance," said Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager. "We didn't play anything like we can. But you're going to get games like that during the season."
A presentation was made to Carlos Bocanegra before kick-off, to mark the 100th cap that the American international earned during a 3-2 win over Slovenia last Tuesday night. There was a Thanksgiving theme to the day as well, with cheerleaders on the pitch, American flags waved and the US national anthem played. It was an attempt at pageantry, but the impetus did not carry beyond the opening whistle.
There was occasional sprightliness in Nikica Jelavic's ability to link up with team-mates through his deft and shrewd use of the ball, but his efforts were increasingly isolated as the rest of the players were so subdued.
Steve Lomas, wearing a tightly-knotted St Johnstone scarf for his first game in charge of the club, had made good use of the international break. His team was well-organised, resolutely structured and able to contain Rangers then try to take advantage of the home side's grimness after the interval.
Murray Davidson clipped a left-foot shot just wide from the edge of the area, then the tall, rangy St Johnstone midfielder should have scored with a free header after the Rangers defenders allowed Chris Millar the freedom to measure a cross into the centre of the penalty area. Davidson's effort wasn't powerful enough, though, and Allan McGregor tipped it over.
When Francisco Sandaza wriggled away from Dorin Goian and surged towards goal before prodding a right-foot shot that McGregor saved, the home side were beginning to look dispirited. The game had slipped out of their control. "We should have won," said Lomas. "We had the better chances. But I was confident, I knew from training that the players would have a right go."
Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Whittaker, Goian, Bocanegra, Broadfoot; Bedoya (Hemmings, 76), Davis, Edu, McKay (Fleck, 64); Jelavic, Lafferty.
St Johnstone (4-2-3-1): Enckleman; MacKay, Anderson, Wright, Davidson; Moon, Morris (Finnigan, 76); Millar, Davidson, Craig; Sandaza (Haber, 79).
Referee Euan Norris.
Man of the match Davidson (St Johnstone).
Match rating 5/10.
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