Iain Dowie chose a more functional line-up at Birmingham City and paid the price - a Kevin Phillips strike for City on the stroke of half-time making it three defeats and a draw in their last four Championship games for the off-form west Londoners.
The Rangers boss anticipated a physical test and packed his team with English battlers, but they rarely threatened at St Andrews, where Emmanuel Ledesma and Akos Buzsaky were kept on the bench until late on.
The match did not live up to its top media billing and the Sky cameras failed to inspire a lunchtime classic on Saturday.
Rangers were desperate to atone for a bad couple of weeks week of league results, which not even the marvellous Carling Cup win at Aston Villa could camouflage.
Dowie adopted a more conventional 4-4-2 formation than he has done in most games this season - Patrick Agyemang partnering Dexter Blackstock up front - but there was a disappointing lack of chances.
The Rs may welcome a two week break from league action to regroup - the initial excitement of some good home wins having given way to a little more realism about their hopes of making the top six this season.
"We can compete with anyone right now but I think we are two or three people away from being a very, very competitive squad," Dowie said.
Rangers' next game is against bottom-of-the-table Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road on October 18.