However, on this occasion, the break could helped us more than hindered.

If we go back just a couple of weeks, Rangers were a club in apparent crisis. Three hidings in a row, various injuries to players, a manager apparently struggling to communicate his ideas and Celtic appearing to be running away with the league.  Even a home win over Dundee Utd did little to enthuse fans and I'll happily concede to be less than optimistic myself.  Fortunately, of all teams, St Mirren managed to do what we, and others, couldn't for the best part of a year and beat Celtic in the league.  Ergo, as much as that result didn't solve every issue we have, it did provide a glimmer of light as the autumn nights start to draw in.

Fast forward a fortnight and the ball is now back in our court where a win at Tynecastle tomorrow could see us return to the top of the league and apply just a wee bit more pressure to our East End rivals.  Can Giovanni van Bronckhorst make the most of that break and the prior unexpected events to turnaround our season?

In that sense, not only the team but the system may be interesting. It may be too early for players like Roofe and Lawrence to start the game but it could be an opportunity for the likes of Ben Davies to finally tie down a starting place. Similarly, as much as Antonio Colak has proven himself a useful addition to our strike-force, will Alfredo Morelos reclaim his role as Rangers' talisman? And, what of previously reliable starters such as Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara and Ryan Kent - can they find the kind of quality that has eluded them so far in this campaign?

All fair questions which should be easily answered tomorrow as Rangers get a chance to kickstart their season. 

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Starting in goal, I'd expect Jon McLaughlin will also be fit again and, as much as I personally feel some fans over-reacted to his (albeit mediocre) efforts this season, Allan McGregor will most likely be preferred again as first choice - even if he looked less than convincing as Dundee Utd pulled a goal back in our last game. From there though the team is less likely to predict. 

For example, we've seen Gio toy with a back three a few times this season - unsuccessfully away to Union SG in our CL qualifier but it fared somewhat better at home to Napoli two weeks ago.  The advantage of this setup would allow Tav to play higher up the pitch - removing the lack of a right-sided attacker issue often complained about - and give the manager the option of either using a front two or, perhaps more likely given his previous comments, a three which could still allow more effective support for the focal point. 

Despite that, I'd expect our usual four to be used tomorrow but it will be very interesting to see who partners Connor Goldson. James Sands has been too inconsistent, Ben Davies still has only one start under his belt and Leon King is still finding his first team feet.  Surely though, if available, Davies should play in the spirit of this preview's title at the very least...?

Moving into the midfield and this area is even more tricky to predict.  Despite some average form this season (possibly due to carrying a knock) John Lundstram remains an obvious choice but his partner(s) less so.  Ryan Jack does appear to be getting sharper and fitter by the week (thanks again to the international break for helping there!) so has to be favourite to play tomorrow.  Steven Davis has been contributing well enough but could be the odd man out against Hearts.  Glen Kamara has really struggled for any sort of form but he'll be keen to change that with two huge games against Liverpool coming up.  Unfortunately, I can't imagine Tom Lawrence yet being fit other than possibly a place on the bench.

In attack, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are in the same position as Kamara.  Neither have shown any form of note and their attitudes appear all less than ideal.  However, if it is the case they want to move on, then two matches against Liverpool are surely the perfect showcase?  As such, I'd expect both to start tomorrow and I'm hoping both can turnaround their and our season with a return to form - Alfie in particular enjoys a game against Hearts.  Depending on the system, you can pick a third player to either join them as a front three or used slightly behind Morelos.  Like many others, none of Wright, Arfield, Tillman or Matondo have consistently impressed so far this season and the manager really needs to find a role that suits one and stick to it.

All in all, it's not easy to guess the starting XI.  That can be a good thing - no team wants to be predictable - but the reasons for our unpredictability aren't positive. Injury, poor form, ill-discipline and tactical uncertainty are our usual catalysts for change this season and there's no getting away with how bad we were pre-international break.

But, as much as that honest concession shows objectivity, it's only fair to remind ourselves of the positives. Yes, we were largely poor through the opening two months, yet we still managed to qualify for the the CL Group Stage and we could easily be top of the Scottish Premiership tomorrow afternoon.  We also have a raft of players returning to freshen up the squad and apply a bit more pressure to anyone under-performing. 

In closing, a trip to Tynecastle is never easy. Even although Hearts have also struggled at times this season, Gorgie is always a tricky away venue and the Jambos will be well up for it tomorrow.  Similarly, with a game away to Liverpool on Tuesday, the restart arguably couldn't be much tougher.  But what better time to show our credentials and remember what we achieved in Europe and at Hampden under Gio last season where we competed against the finest teams in the game and dominated Hearts to win the Scottish Cup. This squad remains capable.

Opportunity knocks.

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