The statement just rolls off the tongue these days. Pittodrie is – just like Tynecastle, Easter Road and an array of other away days that are given the same cliché treatment - a tricky place to go, after all.

Is it really, though? Or do Rangers simply make life far more difficult for themselves than they need to? The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems at times.

Philippe Clement was right in the aftermath of the latest Pittodrie stumble on Sunday. Rangers could have won the game and Rangers should have won the game. Like so many of these fixtures over the years, though, they didn’t win the game and there is little comfort to be taken from the xG or a salvaged point when a victory was the only thing that would have been accepted.

These failings are nothing new. The frustration from supporters was not just at the opportunity that was missed in terms of the title race, it was that sense of déjà vu, that fear that the mistakes that have undermined previous Premiership bids will come back to haunt Clement in the same way that Steven Gerrard, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Beale suffered.

This was not a result that has cost Rangers a shot at glory, but it was the kind of afternoon that can do. It felt like an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder for those who watched on.

Of the 13 points that Aberdeen have won this term, four have now come against Rangers. Without them, they would be bottom of the table. Regardless of the venue, irrespective of the history of the rivalry or the animosity between the fans, this was a game that Rangers had to win against a side that were trounced at Parkhead before the international break.

Previews for these fixtures are so often filled with comments that reference the physicality and application of Aberdeen alongside vows that Rangers won’t get involved in the kind of encounter that suits the Reds. It is, or so they say, about Rangers letting their football – their technical superiority and their tactical planning – come to the fore and ultimately earning them the win. If you do the basics and the non-negotiables then you should, with better players and a better manager, win the game. Yet, once again, it took Rangers too long to get into their stride against a side that were always going to burst out of the traps.

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Leon Balogun made well-versed points on Friday as he spoke ahead of the return to domestic action. Regardless of the merits of Kris Boyd’s assertion that Aberdeen try harder against Rangers, any side that travels from Ibrox should need no warning about what to expect once they step off the team bus and once the whistle blows. It is baffling, then, why so many matches follow a similar trend.

“There are always games where everybody is fighting their hardest but we're up for that,” Balogun said. “It'll be physical but, for us, it's about focusing on our game and how we are trying to deal with that and still trying to play our football.”

Speaking just minutes after Rangers had arrived on Sunday morning, Danilo made the same assertions. Asked what he expected from Aberdeen, he gave an answer that could have come from any player within any Rangers squad over several seasons now.

“A lot of fight,” Danilo said. “I hope we don’t get into what they want as well because we have qualities in our squad. We can play football. We don’t want to be frustrated. That was the point, that if they want to play their game they can play their game but I think we have to believe in ourselves and our qualities to hope we have a great day and bring the three points to Rangers.”

So, what happened? Why did Rangers, as Clement admitted, lose ‘too many duels in the first 10/15’ before conceding a goal that was so unbelievably poor and so completely avoidable? Not for the first time against Aberdeen, Rangers painted themselves into a corner and then had to try and navigate a way out of it. In the end, they left themselves too much to do and James Tavernier’s late penalty – correctly awarded after a clear pull on Connor Goldson’s shirt – could only earn Clement’s side a point.

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The combative, purposeful start from Aberdeen should have come as no surprise to Rangers. Not only did they fail to match the endeavours of Barry Robson’s side, they failed to enforce their way of playing on inferior opponents. It lacked substance and style.

“So at the end, we lose two points but the big working point is that our first 50 minutes were not good - and I’ve said that to the team,” Clement said. “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, we created chances, we played the best football. So we need to get to that level for 90 minutes.”

Tavernier spoke about how Rangers ‘didn’t respond’ to the first contact and second balls in the opening 20 minutes. By that stage, the visitors had been let off the hook, as Jack Butland saved impressively from Ester Sokler, and then fell behind thanks to a fine finish from Bojan Miovski. The build-up to the goal, much like the chance for Sokler, was lamentable from a Rangers perspective.

There was no great escape like the win at Pittodrie last December. Beale’s side got out of jail on that occasion but then reverted to type a few months later as Liam Scales and Miovski netted. The previous term saw Rangers penalised for failing to put Aberdeen away as Lewis Ferguson scored from the spot and a full complement of league points have not been collected against the Dons since the four wins of the 55 campaign.

The recent frustrations and the ones before then that saw Gerrard’s side struggle against Aberdeen in his first seasons, perhaps prove that Pittodrie is indeed a difficult place to go and win. On the other hand, each is evidence that Rangers have simply not performed as required when required. Whenever performances and results slip on the road, the central themes and issues are usually the same.

It should not be beyond this squad, or their predecessors, to match the tempo of Aberdeen, or any opponent in this league. If you deny them a foothold in the game, they have nothing to build on and, on days like Sunday, nothing to hold on to. 

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Clement was entitled to be positive about the manner in which Rangers finished in the ascendancy. On another day, one of Balogun’s headers finds the net or Sam Lammers follows Scott Arfield’s example with a dramatic late winner in front of the Richard Donald Stand. It was an afternoon of ‘what if?’ and ‘if only’ overall, though. And Rangers have had too many of them for it to be treated in isolation.

Points are, of course, going to be squandered over the course of the campaign and there was no damage done in the grand scheme of things on Sunday. Rangers remain, with a game in hand, eight points adrift of Celtic. Both sides of the Old Firm will come unstuck in the coming months but the gap between the big two and the rest is now such that no fixture, not even those historically hyped ones, can be treated as anything other than must win. Any solitary point won on the road is ultimately two left on the table.

A win at Pittodrie would have been a statement of intent in many ways. It would have reduced the arrears and maintained the momentum, but it would also have shown that so many of these players have indeed learned from their litany of mistakes, both here and in similar fixtures at venues across the country.

Rangers will arrive at another ‘tough place’ sooner rather than later. As always, it will only be as difficult as they make it. If they want to win the war, ground cannot be lost in these battles.