Alex McLeish made a point over the summer of beefing up the squad and while his new-look side rose to the challenge against Jimmy Calderwood’s Aberdeen, they couldn’t break a strong home defence.
The Light Blues were clearly up for this tough test and vice captain Alex Rae clashed with new Dons hitman Noel Whelan inside the first sixty second, while Kevin McNaughton and Zander Diamond were both booked for a careless challenges on Peter Lovenkrands.
But despite the physical nature of the match Big Eck’s men still managed to carve out the best chances early on.
David Preece cut out Chris Burke’s dangerous cross ball in only the second minute, before Peter Lovenkrands wasted an excellent opportunity to open the Light Blue’s scoring account for the new campaign.
Loan Ranger Gregory Vignal played an excellent ball over the top and when Lovenkrands anticipated Michael Hart missing the header, he found himself through with only the keeper to beat.
Unfortunately the Dane couldn’t direct his chipped shot and it landed on the roof of the net.
Five minutes later Dado Prso should have done better when he latched on to Burke’s corner, but his powerful header was straight at David Preece.
Just after the half hour mark, however, the Croatian hitman couldn’t have done any more when his bullet header looked a certain goal, only for Preece to react brilliantly and claw it over the bar.
Chris Burke was the visitor’s best player in the first half, but disaster struck for the 20-year-old only two minutes after the interval when he played a long ball then went down unchallenged.
Dehydration was responsible and the winger had to be stretchered off.
Dado Prso received treatment on his ankle in the first half, after coming out worse in a challenge with Markus Heikkinen, but the former Monaco striker still looked the most likely to grab a goal for Gers.
In the 53rd minute Novo, who moved wide right after Burke’s departure, played in a low cross but Prso’s shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Despite their lack of real clear-cut chances front of goal, the Dons fought hard and pressed the ball well in every area.
Russell Anderson and Zander Diamond put in particularly impressive performances against Prso and Novo, while Noel Whelan led the line well.
New signing Derek Adams had the home side’s best chance in the 64th minute but Klos collected his header easily.
With 15 minutes remaining Novo linked well with Prso down the right but instead of picking the easier option of playing in Arveladze, the Spaniard went alone and Anderson tackled well.
With time running out, both sides tried to step up a gear and Lovenkrands could only watch as his header came crashing back off the bar in the 83rd minute.
Shortly after the Dane was in again when he directed Hughes’ cross goal-ward but a stretching Phil McGuire managed to clear it off the line – pulling a hamstring in the process.
After a promising pre season, this was not the start Alex McLeish was looking for. But the championship is a marathon, not a sprint so it’s vital the players pick themselves up in time for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League qualifier on Tuesday.
ABERDEEN: 4-4-2 – Preece; Hart, Anderson, Diamond, McGuire (Morrison 87); McNaughton (Tosh 85), Severin, Heikkinen, Clark; Adams, Whelan (Craig 82)
SUBS: Esson, Tiernan, Stewart
RANGERS: 4-4-2 – Klos; Ricksen, Boumsong, Khizanishvili, Vignal; Burke (Arveladze 47), Rae, Hughes, Lovenkrands; Novo, Prso
SUBS: Smith, Malcolm, Vanoli, Hutton, Andrews, McCormack
REFEREE: Stuart Dougal
MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Burke