We may have been missing a few players today, but the team and squad that took part resembled a rabble hastily chucked together with little real idea of how to function or complement each other. That might have been forgivable last season, when a lack of time and money during the window essentially resulted in that scenario, but we've had a full pre-season and the manager has been well backed in the transfer window. All of Mark Warburton's big-money signings, in transfer fees or wages, have been pretty awful so far, and surely the biggest question mark over his reign is that should the squad need major surgery again in the next window (and it looks as though it really does), is Warburton the right man to carry it out?
Oh aye, speaking of which - Joe Garner, good god. If you can't actually play football then you should at least be able to time hurling yourself at a cross to make some sort of connection. Missing Lee Wallace's cross before Celtic took the lead was not only poor, but it's something he's been doing constantly since he arrived.
Did Mark Warburton get the team selection right, given the circumstances? The move to play James Tavernier further forward and Lee Hodson at right-back may or may not have granted us some extra solidity, but Tavernier contributed little in a forward position (attacking fullbacks do not automatically make good wingers, especially one who depends so heavily on the timing and purpose of his runs from deep.) It also cost us any ability to play out from the back whatsoever, which Tavernier is often excellent at when he carries the ball forward, something we were obviously going to need due to Gilks' poor distribution, the loss of Danny Wilson, and the inclusion of Clint Hill, who has always preferred to hoof it into touch at the slightest sign of danger and instils this tendency among his nearest teammates. Overall, it backfired.
And the subs? It seemed obvious that Rangers were in desperate need of fresh legs in midfield, but we instead replaced our frontline in a bid to do some better pressing there. This might have made sense, if not for several facts - Joe Garner is too slow and Joe Dodoo too lazy to be effective at pressing, while Barrie McKay and Kenny Miller, who were both turning their blood to water all game and still looked fresh enough, were the ones hooked. Baffling.
The gap is there, and it is real. Our reasons for being optimistic have mostly vanished, and we've failed to really do anything to catch up in the summer. The gap has enlarged since then, and the only way we're likely to make it up for the rest of the year is if we can get lengthy periods of good form and fitness out of players who have struggled to find it so far. Some of our new signings are really going to have to step up. A trip to Tynecastle is next up - it could well be a season-defining game.