An 89th minute overhead kick winner from Billy Mckay lifted Inverness Caledonian Thistle off the bottom of the league in their 1000th match, making this milestone an extra memorable one for the Highlands club, who were formed in 1994.
But the late drama piles on the pain for Rangers and caretaker manager Graeme Murty who must now be ruing being pushed into this unwanted limelight.
Just over a fortnight ago Ibrox fans were waking to digest the news of Mark Warburton’s departure. If Rangers’ performance in last week’s defeat by the same scoreline at Dens Park summed up how directionless they have become, here they gave another display that reflected their current status as a rudderless ship.
Having impressed upon his players the need to avoid conceding the opening goal, Murty saw his side do just that, for the fifth consecutive match. Greg Tansey’s curled effort gave Inverness a first-half lead.
While Rangers equalised during a more spirited second-half performance through Martyn Waghorn’s 66th-minute penalty, Inverness earned a precious three points through Mckay.
There were no headstands on the touchline from Murty on this occasion, as at Dens last weekend. The acrobatics came only from Mckay, who pounced on the chance to flick the ball over his head into the far corner after holding off Rob Kiernan just outside the six-yard box.
For a side struggling for confidence, this was a nightmarish appointment in the Highlands for Rangers. Nothing was likely to come very easily against a side who, despite their position, have showed improved form of late.
Inverness lost inspirational full-back Carl Tremarco, the source of seven of their goals this season, after just 15 minutes. But they refused to be blown off course and even had the luxury of missing a penalty, Wes Foderingham diving to his left to block substitute Iain Vigurs’ effort with just four minutes left. Foderingham also pulled off a wonder save from Tansey.
Richie Foran had clearly sought to take a leaf out of Dundee’s books by hoping to place the Rangers rearguard under pressure from the start, with Jake Mulraney and Larnell Cole instructed to run at the opposition full backs.
The trouble, certainly in the beginning, was getting hold of the ball. Rangers remembered their own sluggish start at Dens and took steps to avoid it happening again here.
They were more vibrant here in the initial stages and were it not for Inverness goalkeeper Owen Fon Williams could easily have had a goal to show for their efforts.
With Lee Wallace back at left-back, on-loan Jon Toral in the centre of midfield and Danny Wilson retaining his place at centre back, Rangers looked a more balanced side.
But their inability to make this early pressure count is a telling sign of their current weakness. Despite losing such an influential player as Tremarco, who was replaced by Brad McKay, Inverness recovered from this unimpressive opening to start asking questions of Rangers.
As we are increasingly learning, the Ibrox side struggle to come up with answers when placed on the back foot.
Mulraney began to see more of the ball and while clear opportunities were at a premium, it’s not as if you need a glaring chance to score against Rangers just now. The visitors will point to their own efforts from long range. In less troubled times, perhaps Martyn Waghorn’s attempt after he wrapped his left foot around the ball might have curled in at the far post rather than bound just wide.
But that’s the way it is just now. After Tavernier failed to control a Ross Draper throw-in Liam Polwarth pounced on the opportunity to let fly. Rob Kiernan blocked the effort but it rebounded to Tansey, who curled a brilliant effort into the corner from 22 yards.
If this was not bad enough for Rangers, the loss of yet another opening goal came at the one of the worst times – just moments before half-time.
So their task had become trickier still. On a freezing Friday night in Inverness, staging a comeback was a test of character, especially when the hosts are sensing a victory of such worth to them.
Rangers sought to get back into the game from the off. A Miller break let in Hyndman, whose shot was blocked by David Raven. Tavenier, who was following up, saw his effort thump off Jamie McCart.
Toral was then played in by fellow on-loan team-mate Hyndman but pulled his shot just wide of the far post.
If an unchallenged chance from 12 yards was what they needed to score, Rangers were handed this opportunity when Louis Laing clumsily up-ended Wallace after 66 minutes. Waghorn sent Fon Williams the wrong way from the penalty spot under the noses of a packed away end.
But these fans were left deflated and more than a little angered by their team’s failure to gain at least a point after Foderingham’s brilliant penalty save from Vigurs, following Wilson’s lunge on Mckay. But Mckay then had the last word with an inspirational goal just three minutes later. Rangers’ troubles are increasing with each game.