In mid-November, just over a week before the two sides met at Tynecastle, McGregor questioned whether the league leaders would be able to handle the pressure if Rangers closed the gap. Prior to the meeting, Hearts faced a tricky away trip to Falkirk, while Rangers seemed set to pick up an easy three points at home to struggling Alloa.
Unfortunately for McGregor and Rangers, things didn’t go according to plan. Alloa earned a 1-1 draw at Ibrox while Hearts beat Falkirk later the same day.
The champions then defeated Rangers the week after, opening up a nine-point lead and effectively turning the title hunt into a one-horse race before December.
“I need to take my hat off to them,” admitted McGregor after Rangers saw off Cowdenbeath 4-1 on Saturday. “From my point of view they had done great up until that point, and it was interesting for me to see if we’d gotten a point behind them to see how they would have coped.
“Obviously that never happened and I’ve been forced to eat my words because we drew against Alloa and they’ve kicked on.
“Sometimes these things come back to bite you. I’ve got nothing but praise for the way Hearts have carried themselves this season, and unfortunately we’ve been poor.”
Rangers are beginning to gain some momentum under new manager Stuart McCall. “We do have something to prove. We want to right some wrongs,” added McGregor.
“We’ve gone into the two games and both have been tight affairs. That’s not taking anything away from Hearts. They are deserved champions.”