Second-half goals from Lee Miller and Darren Mackie at Pittodrie ended the Ibrox outfit’s chances of a 52nd championship win.

In the end, Gers lost the league by three points following Celtic’s win over Dundee United at Tannadice.

But while there is disappointment being felt amongst Walter Smith’s squad, they can still hold their heads up high after a quite remarkable season.

Ultimately, the intensity of games in the latter part of this 68-game campaign has taken its toll.

Whether people agree or not, there is no doubt being allowed to space their fixtures out a little more would have aided their bid to reclaim Scottish football’s greatest prize.

As it was, Rangers were made to play their last three matches in just six days and, after the disappointment of losing the UEFA Cup final, they simply ran out of steam.

Their campaign is still far from over, however, and Smith must now rally his troops ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final against Queen of the South.

With just 41 hours between this game and that, Gers again haven’t been helped but they must rise above that and try to add to the League Cup they won in March.

Rangers went to Pittodrie knowing their recent record there wasn’t great, with just one win coming in their last five outings at the venue.

But with three points a necessity, they were also aware they had to put that behind them and Smith fielded an attacking line-up designed to put the Dons under pressure.

After he scored two goals against St Mirren on Monday, Jean-Claude Darcheville kept his place up front and was paired with Daniel Cousin in a 4-4-2 formation.

Charlie Adam also returned to the fray, with Christian Dailly preferred at right-back to Kirk Broadfoot for the attacking threat he poses.

Despite their need for a win, Gers were on the back foot initially as the hosts piled upfield looking to cause a shock.

Miller was their biggest danger to begin with, with Neil Alexander saving one header and reacting quickly to gather another cross.

But the visitors soon responded, with Darcheville’s shot deflected behind and Carlos Cuellar seeing his acrobatic volley tipped over the crossbar by Jamie Langfield.

It was a frenetic start and while Steven Whittaker was contributing to it, it wasn’t always positively.

On two of the occasions he lost the ball, he allowed Chris Maguire and Stuart Duff to come within a yard or two of breaking the deadlock from long distance.

Alexander didn’t help the full-back at times and his poor clearance to the former Hibs man let Miller in but he failed to take advantage.

Rangers tried to lift the tempo again, with Kevin Thomson playing Darcheville in, and it took a touch from Richard Foster to divert his shot off target.

But it was a fairly even opening period, with neither side really stamping their authority on the game.

Barry Ferguson’s miss shortly before the break summed that up to a tee as he sent Darcheville’s cut-back soaring high over the upright and into the stand.

Adam’s effort from a free kick, awarded after Thomson was fouled by Karim Touzani 22 yards out, wasn’t much better and it also flew too high.

It was no surprise it remained 0-0 at the interval and with the score the same at Tannadice at that point, something extra was needed after the restart.

Worryingly for Gers, it was Aberdeen who gave it first and it took a great stop by Alexander to deny Miller.

At the other end, Darcheville threaded a great ball through to Ferguson and he outpaced Zander Diamond but shot tamely straight at Langfield.

Nerves were starting to kick in and it was becoming clear the Light Blues needed something to settle them.

But Ferguson couldn’t give them it with his glancing header from a Dailly cross and he looked on forlornly as it went the wrong side of the near post.

The away side had a lucky escape moments later when Stuart Duff screwed a glaring volley well wide and Smith had to go for broke.

Within seconds, he freshened things up with the introduction of Kris Boyd and Nacho Novo for the tiring Darcheville and Cousin.

But their first act was to restart the game from the centre spot after Miller headed in former Ibrox youth Barry Nicholson’s cross and gave the Dons the lead.

With 25 minutes to go, things were looking extremely bleak for the Light Blues as Celtic were still level on Tayside, meaning they were winning the league by a point.

But news soon filtered through that Gordon Strachan’s men had taken a lead and Gers knew their league campaign was all but over.

Smith showed the faith he has in 16-year-old John Fleck by throwing him on for his SPL debut in Adam’s place.

But even after all he has achieved in the youth and reserve ranks, he couldn’t salvage the game and Aberdeen made sure of their win 13 minutes from the end.

Mackie was the scorer, latching on to a long ball to roll underneath Alexander and double the home side’s lead.

Things went from bad to worse for Rangers, with Novo being shown a straight red card by referee Kenny Clark for a foul on Stuart Duff.

Having missed the League Cup final in March through suspension, he will now miss Saturday’s Scottish Cup final too.

As his dismissal was for violent conduct, his ban is immediate and is a further blow to the Spaniard.

Regardless of that, the travelling Rangers fans recognised the effort their team has put in this season by giving their side a standing ovation at the full-time whistle.

For their sake, Smith’s men must now make sure they give them a cup double to reflect on when this extraordinary campaign finally comes to an end.

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