Substitute Kenny Miller came to Rangers' rescue as his 100th Scottish league goal clinched a vital 1-0 win over Queen of the South at Palmerston.
Mark Warburton's side struggled for a cutting edge as they ran out for the first time since seeing striker Martyn Waghorn ruled out for up to eight weeks.
But former Scotland striker Miller provided the spark they needed as he took just four minutes to fire the Ladbrokes Championship leaders ahead with a spectacular 20-yard strike following his second-half introduction.
With title rivals Hibernian victorious over Alloa earlier in the day, Gers could not afford a slip-up but they eventually ground out the win which preserves their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
The Ibrox men were back on plastic for the third match running but had to do without Waghorn following the knee injury he suffered on Kilmarnock's artificial pitch.
The Light Blues blamed the "unforgiving" Rugby Park surface for that lay-off but his absence gave Nicky Clark - who climbed off the bench to score Gers' late winner in Tuesday's William Hill Scottish Cup win at Killie - a chance to start against his old side, with Michael O'Halloran and Billy King also returning.
Queens, meanwhile, were prohibited from deploying on-loan Ibrox midfielder Andy Murdoch against his parent club.
It was the hosts who created the first chance four minutes in, with Wes Foderingham saving Derek Lyle's point-blank range header from a Mark Millar corner before the striker nodded the rebound wide.
Gers were soon on the front foot, though.
They came close with a James Tavernier free-kick while King fluffed an easy chance when he miskicked a simple volley straight into Jim Atkinson's hands from six yards out.
The Doonhamers stopper was, however, guilty of spilling Andy Halliday's long-range effort but made amends by bravely blocking with his feet as Clark raced in for the rebound.
But Rangers were too often guilty of trying to intricately pass their way into the net. Time and again their moves broke down on the bouncy astroturf when a shot at goal might have done the trick.
Queens right-back Lewis Kidd had no such hesitation pulling the trigger as he slammed a 20-yard effort onto the bar just before half-time.
That was a let-off for Rangers and they got another thanks to Foderingham just after half-time when Rob Kiernan's weak header fell straight at Jake Pickard's feet, with the keeper smart off his line to block
With his side looking no closer to a breakthrough, Warburton called for his veteran frontman on the hour mark as Clark was replaced.
And Miller delivered almost immediately. Lee Wallace took a quick throw which Miller let bounce up off the plastic turf before sending an outrageous dipping shot into the postage-stamp corner in the 64th minute.
Foderingham produced vital saves in the last 10 minutes to deny Ryan Conroy and Chris Higgins while Gers midfielder Jason Holt saw a late strike fly back off the bar as his side clung on for victory.