Philippe Clement started every single one of his post-match interviews with variations of the same sentence. His reflections on the game? “That we should have had three points”.

“If you have the expected goals we had today, we should have scored more goals,” he reasoned during his post-match press conference following a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie with Aberdeen.

“All credit to Aberdeen. When you go behind against them, they defend with numbers, with a lot of passion, in small spaces. So it’s not easy to create all these chances. Then it’s about centimetres. Twice we hit the crossbar. That could have been two goals and we had some other really good opportunities.”

This was not a case of a manager enacting the role of the sore loser because as the xG shows, the visitors dominated. Admittedly Aberdeen’s early goal offered something to hold onto and limited offerings at the other end, while a late penalty made the visitors' figure look far more healthy. 1.45xG in open play isn’t huge but it was largely achieved while keeping the hosts at bay and negating their counterattacking threat.

Clement’s voice of reason and rationale was not necessarily shared online, however. Yes, Rangers may well have enjoyed a 68 percent share of the ball, 142 passes in the opposition third compared to Aberdeen’s 39 and 37 box entries to the hosts’ six.  Aberdeen only fashioned 0.06xG after their goal. This was a one-off, no? A game that Rangers would win 83 times out of 100 if the xG is to be trusted.

Here in lies the contrast. For many, this game simply represented a theme of missed opportunity. After Celtic had drawn at home to Motherwell the day prior a chance to cut the gap at the top was not capitalised upon. Once again, Brendan Rodgers’ side had slipped up and not been punished for doing so. An opportunity to really seize the momentum and set the narrative at the start of this festive run had been passed up. Maybe this is a game Rangers should have won 83 times of 100, but that does not mean they would match the data.

Who is right? The voice that suggests Sunday was another example of this Rangers team failing to rise to the occasion as all title-winning sides must, or the voice that suggests, to quote Clement, “the luck factor to win games was missing”?

The away side made a difficult game all the more challenging because of their failure to match the hosts’ early intensity. As James Tavernier suggested afterwards: “The first 20 we didn't respond to the first contact and second balls."

“It’s not an easy place to go behind and still get so many chances and come back at the end, you need resilience for that, a good mentality,” Clement reasoned on Sky Sports. “The players showed all of that but if it was for 90 minutes we would have won this game.”

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During his post-match press conference, Clement added: “The big working point is that our first 50 minutes were not good - and I’ve said that to the team. We were not sharp enough at the start of the game. The moment we started winning the duels, after 50 minutes, we started to dominate. So we need to get to that level for 90 minutes.”

That is where a voice of cynicism feels justified. Rangers took too long to find their rhythm and although Bojan Miovski’s finish was pure quality the concession of such a chance seconds after it left the boot of Kelle Roos in the other goal was avoidable at best. The front-footed intentionality of Aberdeen’s strike partnership when held up against the flat-footed response of the Rangers defence summarised those opening 20 minutes. Jack Butland had bailed his team out just moments before with a big one-on-one stop, but it was not a warning they would not respond to. The task at Pittodrie is not to play the game in a style and flow that suits the opposition, but to match their physicality and provide a platform for superior quality to show.

Title-winning teams cannot rely on others, whether that be direct opponents dropping points or providing a headstart in matches as they did yesterday. Although trust has started to rebuild between this group and stands during recent weeks only winning big-pressure domestic games consistently builds trust in a title race. Perhaps this is the defining area of frustration - Rangers must not only end these games as if they are must-win but start them in the same fashion.

That being said, had Leon Balogon powered one of his headers which hit the bar or the keeper into the net, the tone would be so very different. At 0.27 and 0.14xG, they were the two best open-play chances afforded.

This was a better 90-minute performance than that witnessed at home against Hearts recently. Natural width in the midfield remains a work in progress, and Rabbi Matondo’s cameo encouraged again in that regard. The chance he created late on for Sam Lammers held a chance value of 0.11xG. The opportunity that fell from a late cross to Danilo to win that meeting with Hearts had a slightly higher rating of 0.16xG. Lammers should have done better and found either side of the keeper, but at Ibrox against Hearts, a late half chance against a suddenly unsettled defence fell to Rangers’ best finisher instead.

A win would yesterday not have solved Rangers’ issues. The £8 million or so spent on Lammers and Cyriel Dessers, not even brought off the bench as his team chased a goal, represents an imbalance across the squad that Clement must work with.

And yet, the Ibrox side were probably worth more than a point to the outside observer. While that should not assuage the concerns, cloud issues or act as a crutch, on a pure performance basis it ought to be a consideration.

The tension that the Belgian continues to manage within is this: Clement inherits a squad that must still earn trust before they have it and while he seeks to write his “story” at Rangers, the overall script of recent seasons has featured too many afternoons like yesterday. 

The Rangers manager is right to look at the underlying trends and suggest his side deserved more. At Ibrox, you are judged on results but analysis of the underlying numbers can be far more discript than swaying with the wind of variables.

Equally, Clement inherits the scar tissue of past failures he's so far managed to keep quiet. Only winning games like yesterday will develop confidence in the stands, even if the underlying numbers give good reason to suggest that will be the case. In hindsight which voice will be proven right, the one that says Rangers were unlucky or the other which suggests you make your own? Over the next month, we're about to find out.