Rangers’ lack of staying power let them down again as they surrendered the Ladbrokes Premiership lead for the second time in a fortnight after being held by Hibernian to a 0-0 Easter Road stalemate.
The Ibrox men found themselves top of the table for the first time since 2011 with victory over Hearts earlier this month but let it slip three days later as they were beaten at home by Aberdeen.
They were looking to keep a grip of top spot for longer this time after clambering back into first place with Sunday’s win over Hamilton.
But despite creating a string of chances against a Leith outfit still on a high after their weekend triumph over Celtic, they were left frustrated as they drop back to second a point behind their Old Firm rivals.
Eighth-placed Hibs could not hit the heights they managed in their 2-0 win over Brendan Rodgers’ side but they have now climbed to within a point of the top six.
Neil Lennon’s men had snuffed out the champions’ threat with their work-rate on Sunday but this time they spent the opening 45 minutes struggling to catch their breath as Gers put them under incessant pressure.
Yet it was the hosts who should have taken the lead off the back of a James Tavernier mistake four minutes in, but Flo Kamberi dragged wide.
After a scrappy opening, though, it was Rangers who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
The Light Blues’ growing dominance should have resulted in the opener after 28 minutes as Borna Barisic cut the home defence in two with a great pass for Alfredo Morelos.
The Ibrox top-scorer skipped past Ryan Porteous but Adam Bogdan – forced on after 11 minutues when Ofir Marciano went off injured – threw out a leg to divert behind.
The former Liverpool keeper came up with another crucial stop moments later when Morelos burst through for a second time as Efe Ambrose’s touch let him down while trying to control Stevie Mallan’s pass.
Steven Gerrard’s team were turning up the heat but Hibs somehow survived when first Gareth McAuley failed to tap home from a Barisic corner before Lewis Stevenson ducked to head Scott Arfield’s flick off the line.
Ryan Jack had done a great job snuffing out the Leith side’s central threat in midfield but he was forced to scramble back on 33 minutes to put off Daryl Horgan from giving Hibs the lead as they broke at speed.
Ambrose put in a vital block on a Eros Grezda strike on the stroke of half-time whistle to leave Gerrard wondering just how his side were not ahead.
Jack’s positioning was impeccable again as his last-ditch tackle denied Vykintas Slivka a sight at goal just after the break while Bogdan got his angles right once more as he parried a Tavernier effort.
McAuley’s lack of pace at the back had been a worry for Gerrard as he faced up to to the hosts lightening attack but he decided he could take no further chances after watching the veteran Northern Irishman get left in Oli Shaw’s trail before the young striker screwed wide, with Joe Worrall introduced in his place.
After a lull, Rangers upped the pace again but their finishing continued to let them down.
Daniel Candeias fired straight at Ambrose as he pounced on a loose ball in the box while Morelos flashed across goal after wriggling clear in the box.
Gers were throwing bodies forward but again almost got caught on the counter late on as Candeias scrambled back to rescue Worrall after his nightmare back-pass almost set substitute Martin Boyle clear on Allan McGregor’s goal.