Rangers failed to win for the first time under Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Thursday, but a draw away to runaway group leaders Lyon in a dead-rubber European tie is hardly a disaster.
Having won his first four fixtures at the helm, the early signs are extremely encouraging, though a trip to third-placed Hearts represents his toughest examination domestically to date.
Although Ryan Jack suffered an injury setback ahead of the clash with Lyon, fringe players Nathan Patterson, John Lundstram and Scott Wright were given a chance, with the latter impressing in particular.
It remains to be seen if Leon Balogun will be fit for this fixture, but stand in Calvin Bassey will hope to retain his place alongside Connor Goldson at the back following a series of impressive performances, despite his own goal midweek which he could do little about.
Robbie Neilson’s side have been a little hit and miss of late with three wins and three defeats from their past six outings.
However, each of those defeats came on the road and at Tynecastle alone, Hearts have won seven of 10 unbeaten matches in all competitions this season, including four of the last five.
Rangers are W7-D3-L1 on the road in all competitions since late August, including seven consecutive wins in the league.
However, it’s worth noting that they’ve enjoyed a kind domestic fixture list of late, with all but one of those victories coming against sides currently in the bottom half of the table.
Hearts +1 Asian Handicap
The Gers have only won by more than a single goal in four of their past 16 away days in league action since the start of January, as they typically remain more prolific at Ibrox.
Hearts are unbeaten in their past three encounters with Rangers, winning their final two meetings of the 2019/20 campaign when they ultimately relegated, as well as taking a point at Ibrox this term.
They haven’t fared badly against Celtic either this term, losing by one-goal margins in the League Cup and in the Premiership at Parkhead, as well as recording an opening day win over Ange Postecoglou’s side on home turf.
The hosts remain without Congolese midfielder Beni Baningime, but they’ll be hopeful that wing-back Michael Smith and top scorer Liam Boyce will be fit enough to return here.
Given their record at home this season, they look well-equipped to give Rangers a stern challenge.
Across all competitions, they’ve only lost one of their 22 matches this season by more than a single goal, so if their visitors should prevail, we’d expect it to be by the narrowest of margins.
HEARTS +1 HANDICAP