ALL good things must come to an end. So it was that Rangers’ impressive run of 27 matches unbeaten at the start of this season came to a shuddering halt against St Mirren on Wednesday night in dramatic fashion.

It had looked as though Steven Gerrard’s men had managed to answer all of the old questions about their mettle when Steven Davis popped up in the 89th minute to level the match and seemingly keep Rangers in the Betfred Cup. Just a few minutes later though, Conor McCarthy had bundled the ball home at the other end, and suddenly all of those doubts around the Ibrox side’s bottle were back on the agenda.

Mostly, and gleefully so it has to be said, from those of a Celtic persuasion. Having been hunkered down for much of the last two months, suddenly the Celtic supporters were finding their voice once more on perhaps their favourite subject – even above their displeasure with their own board – which is of course the misfortune of Rangers.

Before moving on to the Old Firm tit-for-tat though, a special mention for Jim Goodwin and St Mirren, which I hope doesn’t come across as tokenism. Goodwin has the Saints on their own impressive unbeaten run, which stretches to 10 matches if you discount the games forfeited to Hamilton and Motherwell. That feat is all the more impressive when you consider they had lost six on the spin beforehand, and both the manager and his team deserve real credit for turning around what has been a hugely disrupted season for them.

It will likely suit Goodwin that much of the media spotlight after their shock victory over Rangers is falling on their opponents and what it means for them, as he quietly looks to move St Mirren up the Premiership table. He must also now fancy a real tilt at silverware with a semi-final against Livingston potentially setting up a final showdown with either Hibernian or St Johnstone.

Hibs will rightfully be the favourites to lift the trophy, but St Mirren have no cause to fear anyone if they can carry on performing with the same level of tactical organisation, defensive discipline and boundless energy that they exhibited the other night.

And as for their vanquished opponents, another dreadfully disappointing cup exit – particularly with Celtic having already been eliminated by Ross County – will have been hard to stomach. And given their imperious form since the start of the season, hard to fathom.

Amid the Schadenfreude coming from all directions though, Rangers and their fans should maintain a sense of perspective. They haven’t suddenly become a bad team overnight, as insipid as their display was at times in Paisley. Their reaction to the first real setback of the season though will be interesting to observe.

That is due mainly to the fact that it has been around this time in recent campaigns that early season promise has made way to devastating collapse, and across the city Celtic are banking on this crack in the Rangers veneer of invincibility becoming another fissure as they look to close what could be a 16-point gap at the top of the Premiership by the end of the weekend.

Rangers host a dreadfully out-of-sorts Motherwell side at Ibrox tomorrow afternoon, and it offers a perfect chance for Gerrard’s team – more than likely restored to full strength - to bounce back from their disappointment in emphatic fashion. If they can open up a 16-point gap, even though Celtic will have three games in hand, it will be a welcome psychological boost after the frustration of their cup exit.

What the match against St Mirren has shown though is that teams can indeed lay more than a glove on a Rangers team who were being talked about as potentially capable of emulating Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic ‘Invincibles’ just a few days ago. That will give Celtic hope. In the short term, Rangers will look to extinguish that somewhat with a thumping win over the Steelmen tomorrow, but what of the wider picture of their ability to handle the pressure when it comes to the business end of domestic competition?

Steven Gerrard is now zero from seven when it comes to trophies since he arrived in Glasgow. Only once has his Rangers side been eliminated from a cup by Celtic during that run, when they failed to convert their undoubted superiority in last season’s Betfred Cup final into a victory.

They also crashed out of both the Betfred Cup and the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen in Gerrard’s first season, as well as losing to a struggling Hearts side at Tynecastle in last season’s Scottish Cup quarter-final.

It goes without saying that the Rangers side Gerrard inherited has improved almost beyond recognition since the first of those cup defeats to Aberdeen at Hampden, when Gerrard had to explain the offside rule to the feckless Umar Sadiq as the match was in progress. But despite hugely impressive European results and sparkling domestic form this season, up until a couple of days ago, the fact remains that the Rangers players have yet to meaningfully answer any of the questions that will now be raised again over their mentality.

Whether the phrase ‘They’ve Rangersed it’ ever enters the Scottish football lexicon in the same way that ‘Hibsed it’ did before they too beat the Ibrox side in a major final at Hampden remains to be seen.

It is up to the Rangers players now to stop that from happening, and show everyone in Scottish football who is currently laughing it up at their expense exactly what they are made of.