A DIFFICULT week for Ally McCoist ended in sheer misery as Rangers were dumped out of the Scottish Cup by Dundee United for the second time in three years.
The Light Blues lost two bad goals in the first half and they never really looked like from recovering from that deficit.
The free-flowing goal-scoring performance of the previous week against Hibs seemed like an age before and the reality is United were well worth their win in front of only 17,822
There was a sense of purpose about Dundee United in the early moments and they had signalled their threat.
Johnny Russell had a deflected shot saved by Allan McGregor in 11 minutes and then the Rangers keeper had to dive swiftly to his left in 14 minutes to force away a fierce drive from Paul Dixon.
The shot may have been going wide but McGregor decided he could not take any chances.
Within a minute United were ahead. Rangers looked shaky from a corner from the right and then John Rankin swung the ball back into the danger area and McGregor frantically beat it away.
The ball broke out to Gary MacKay-Steven who crossed back into the penalty area and Gavin Gunning powered a header into the net off the underside of the bar.
The small Ibrox crowd could hardly believe their eyes but Rangers tried to respond immediately only to find Dusan Pernis in terrific form in the United goal.
Sone Aluko roused the support with some sensational close control in 18 minutes when he took a pass from Davis and seemed to juggle the ball from one foot to the other before smashing a right foot shot which Pernis blocked brilliantly.
Then on 24 minutes Pernis was the United saviour again. Aluko found David Healy on the edge of the box and he drilled a low right foot shot which seemed destined for the left corner but Pernis somehow clawed it away with his fingertips.
It seemed to be encouraging for Ally McCoist but Rangers were caught out again in 34 minutes when they lost a very poor second goal.
It stemmed from a move down the left with Paul Dixon and MacKay-Stevens working some good space with the latter picking out Russell running into the area in the left channel unmarked and he swept a left foot shot high past McGregor.
It was a terrible goal to lose and now Rangers had a mountain to climb to keep their Cup hopes alive.
There was one chance before the break when Davis played a clever ball to the back post for Kyle Bartley who had powered into the box but instead of heading across goal for Healy he tried to score with a header and Pernis saved easily.
It had been a difficult first start for Mevan Celik who got little change out of Paul Dixon playing on the right side of midfield.
He was replaced at half-time by Salim Kerkar and he was moved up front to play with Healy who was then replaced by Andy Little on 60 minutes.
However, there was little sign that Rangers were going to get back into it. Indeed United had two very decent chances midway through the second period.
Gary Kenneth had a free header after Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra failed to properly clear a Dixon cross. Then in 66 minutes Jon Daly headed over the bar from six yards.
McCoist then played his last card when he introduced Gregg Wylde for Papac with 21 minutes remaining and finally Rangers created a chance of sorts in 71 minutes.
Aluko did well on the right and cut the ball to the near post where Little made connection but the ball flew high and wide of the target.
Then in 75 minutes Mo Edu was ambitious with a long range right foot shot which didn’t trouble Pernis as it flew harmlessly wide.
In the end Rangers could not find a way through and their involvement in the Scottish Cup was over.