The shape of Paul Le Guen's team on Saturday was less significant than the wider shape of things to come: youth, verve, options across the park and a serious attempt by Rangers' French manager to wrest the Scottish Premier League title from Celtic at the first time of asking.
Le Guen temporarily ditched his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation - and four players who had been part of it for the previous three games. Instead he began with a 4-4-2 that accommodated two on-loan youngsters from Manchester United (right-back Phil Bardsley and left winger Lee Martin), right winger Chris Burke and Kris Boyd, last season's leading SPL scorer, who crowned his first start under Le Guen with two goals.
"The change to 4-4-2 is not definitive," Le Guen said afterwards. "The important thing is we needed the win after two draws and we got that. As the game went on, we felt better, our movement was good."
All the best performances came from boys in blue. Dado Prso worked tirelessly and won the penalty that broke the deadlock. Burke and Martin illuminated the flanks as Hearts' three-man midfield struggled to cope.
The visitors' frustration at their shortcomings cost them, with a flurry of late bookings, including two for Robbie Neilson, the defender seeing red in more ways than one.
Goals: Boyd (47 pen) 1-0; Boyd (50) 2-0.
Rangers (4-4-2): Letizi; Bardsley (Hutton, 66), Svensson, Rodriguez, Smith; Burke (Buffel, 88), Hemdani, Clement, Martin; Prso, Boyd (Sebo, 71). Substitutes not used: McGregor (gk), Rae, Sionko, Adam.
Heart of Midlothian (4-3-3): Gordon;
Neilson, Pressley, Berra, Fyssas; Mikoliunas (Hartley, 70), Brellier, Aguiar; Elliot, Jankauskas, Bednar (Pospisil, h-t; McCann, 62). Substitutes not used: Banks (gk), Wallace, Karipidis, Mole.
Referee: K Clark.
Booked: Rangers: Prso. Hearts: Neilson, Brellier, Pressley, Fyssas.
Sent off: Hearts: Neilson (90).
Man of the match: Prso.
* Celtic lost their chance to go top of the SPL with a 1-1 draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle yesterday. Stephen Pearson slid home a Kenny Miller pass after 26 minutes to give Celtic the lead and they controlled most of the match. However, Caley kept going and were rewarded in the 80th minute when Grant Munro equalised from the edge of the penalty area.Reuse content