Only a few days ago this site published this piece discussing how Hibs’ failure at home to Morton had given Rangers all the incentive in the world to rule the Championship with an iron fist, losing as they did by 3-0 at Easter Road.
Well, today they have gone one step better – not only crumbling for the second loss in a row, but quite simply handing Rangers the title after Mark Warburton’s men secured all three points against St Mirren.
Rangers now lead Alan Stubbs’ side by a colossal 11 points, and that means the Ibrox men have three losses and a draw in their locker as insurance even if Hibs now win every single match between now and the end of the season.
To say Hibernian have bottled this big time is the understatement of the year – while Rangers have dropped only two points this calendar year, Hibs keep on shooting themselves in the foot, and the gap between the ‘rivals’ continues to grow.
It is true Rangers are labouring to some of these wins, and it is certainly a bit disappointing that Warbs’ team has not managed a winning margin of more than a goal since they managed a 2-0 at Cappielow, but the real truth is it is not how you win that counts.
It is simply that you do.
Walter Smith’s Rangers hardly played silky-smooth football either half the time – but it was built from winners, players who knew how to get that result when it really counted.
While Warburton’s squad are obviously not of that vintage, they are nevertheless learning to win when form is not great. Play has been too intricate, too convoluted, and trying too hard to walk the ball in the net at times; but when it has really counted in the 90, someone has done enough to attain all three points.
And winning is what matters.
It is what Hibs are failing to do, and what Warbs’ side are starting to grind out. Naturally we would love the standard of play to be consistently high and cricket scores to pour out all the time, but that is not happening – but the gap at the top keeps growing.
In three days, the lead has gone from eight points with a game less, to 11 points all in. Despite having had well over 18 months with his squad (head start of a year over Warbs), Alan Stubbs still does not know how to make them deliver the results when it truly matters – yet Rangers are starting to steel that into themselves.
Killie, Falkirk and now St Mirren have faced a Rangers team who would not give up, who kept going at their opponents and got that critical winner with virtually the last kick.
Robert the Bruce’s little spider’s message rings loud in how Rangers have continued to plug away.
And it is what separates champions from nearly-men.