Glasgow (AFP) - Osman Sow's late winner for Hearts gave Rangers an indication of the fight they face to escape the Scottish Championship as they inflicted a dramatic 2-1 opening day defeat on the Glasgow giants at Ibrox on Sunday.
With Rangers coming up as League One champions and Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian both coming down, all eyes were on Scotland's second tier as a crowd of over 43,000 packed into Ibrox for the first ever meeting of the teams outside of the top flight.
Rangers started brightest with David Templeton coming close but it was the visitors who took a 53rd minute lead through a Danny Wilson header and they held their advantage until the first minute of stoppage time when Nicky Law slotted home an equaliser.
However, Hearts scored immediately from the restart when Sow fired a low shot past Cammy Bell to inflict Rangers' first league defeat since October 2012 and set up a cracking Edinburgh derby with Hibs, who won 2-1 away to Livingston on Saturday, next weekend.
Rangers manager Ally McCoist slammed his side's defending.
"I just felt the two goals we lost were extremely poor," he said.
"I'm also disappointed at our failure to take our chances which would have made life a whole lot easier for us.
"The second goal was really poor defending especially when we got the equaliser and were looking for a positive reaction for the last five minutes to go and win the game. It just floored everybody," the former Rangers and Scotland striker added.
Robbie Neilson, in only his second competitive game in charge of Hearts, was delighted with his side's spirit.
"We know the first hour would be really difficult for us and we did ride our luck a little bit," Neilson said.
"We got our goal and when Rangers scored in the 91st minute the easiest thing would been for the team to fold.
"But to turn it around shows we have a group of winners in there."
- Jardine tribute -
Both sets of supporters had united before the match to pay tribute to Sandy Jardine as Rangers renamed the Govan stand in his honour.
Jardine, who died in April aged 65, made more than 800 appearances for Rangers before amassing nearly 300 more for Hearts as he became the first Scottish player to play over 1,000 first-class games.
Templeton should have had Rangers in front in the 19th minute when Kenny Miller's deflected shot fell nicely for him but he somehow contrived to head his effort over the bar from 10 yards.
Hearts had barely threatened but came close as the match headed to the break when Alim Ozturk sliced a cross from Wilson just wide and then Sam Nicholson sent a header straight at Cammy Bell.
The visitors started the second half in an equally strong fashion and took a 53rd minute lead through Wilson as he sent a powerful header beyond Bell from Billy King's corner.
The match was temporarily halted in the 67th minute as Alexander was replaced by reserve keeper Scott Gallacher after being stretchered off following a clash of heads with Ozturk.
Hearts held firm until Law equalised seconds into stoppage time after he connected with Miller's header across the box.
Rangers immediately replaced Richard Forster with Darren McGregor but Hearts exploited the gap down the right and Sow raced on to Nicholson's pass to rifle a low shot past Bell.