Michael Beale had already pinpointed "red flags" in his first two games as Rangers manager and it seems certain several more issues will be added to the list after a night of immense drama at Pittodrie.

Any anger will be tempered by an astonishing late comeback with substitute Scott Arfield blasting a double to ensure his side secured what was looking like a highly unlikely three points just moments from the full-time whistle.

Aberdeen were a different proposition to the one faced by Celtic at the weekend. Jim Goodwin appeared stung by the intense criticism he received despite his tactical plan working until the dying embers. You sense that it may have positively shaped his approach here. Add to that Rangers' shaky recent defensive performances and the Irishman's team was always going to have more intent.

And yet, Rangers started well and dominated the opening skirmishes before Fashion Sakala's early goal set them up for what should have been a straightforward night. The Dons looked rattled and Ryan Kent was dripping with menace whenever he picked up the ball in central areas. But slowly, Rangers' grip on the game slipped, never truly to be regained, even in those final dramatic minutes.

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A sloppy Fashion Sakala touch in the middle of the pitch allowed Connor Barron the space to run at Sands. The American was a blur of arms and legs. He seemed to have things under control until he suddenly didn't and was forced to take evasive action and foul.

Duk's subsequent freekick was sweetly struck but nowhere near the corner. Replays showed Allan McGregor had been deceived by the knuckleball strike's trajectory and had taken an erroneous step to the left as the ball began its arc to the right. It was a mistake that would prove decisive. Perhaps it was hit with such crisp lucidity that the keeper wouldn't have got there - and that case can certainly be cogently made - but how persuasive it is dims with every extra viewing.

Beale turned the game at half-time against Hibs last weekend. At Pittodrie, it was his opponent who put together the pieces of his jigsaw with more alacrity. Rangers were sloppy, slow and lacking in ideas in a way that's been seen many, many times before from this squad.

A deserved second goal followed, this time from Liverpool loanee Leighton Clarkson. It was another terrific hit but, on second viewing, you might question veteran keeper McGregor's starting position.

Data has shown signs the 40-year-old has been struggling this season and tonight will do little to dampen the sense that a failure to address the goalkeeper position in the summer was one of former manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst's biggest failures.

2-1 down, trouble was clearly afoot.

Beale had talked up the importance of mentality in the run-up to the game. Long trips to both Aberdeen and Dingwall are always going to be a test of mettle.

He said: “It’s a big week where eyes are going to be on us so it’s a great opportunity for us to make sure that we impress people and not keep the questions coming in the background. It’s a mentality week.”

READ MORE: Michael Beale salutes Rangers character after dramatic win - full Q+A

Back to the game and his words were proving prescient but perhaps not the way the manager would have hoped.

Nevertheless, Rangers pressed forward with regularity, if not efficiency, as the clock ticked on. Beale threw on Arfield as one of four subs in the hope the veteran could provide some inspiration and it provided a spark.

He quickly created havoc. Aberdeen got a taste of what was to come as Kelle Roos stopped the Canadian twice from close range, the first with a little help from Ross McCrorie after the bull spun underneath the keeper and towards the line.

it was as close as they'd come but Rangers kept knocking at the door. It seemed in vain as they huffed and puffed but their reward came five minutes into injury time when Arfield stayed sharp to slot home from close range after Kent's 25-yard shot was spilt. And the same player sent the fans into an unlikely dreamland two minutes later when he sclaffed home the winner.

Amid the wild celebrations in the stand and on the grass, one man remained still. Beale looked unhappy, lost in his thoughts, even in victory. 

His comments in midweek fit the situation perfectly.

"At this moment in time, the most important thing for us is to try and get performance happy," he said. "That will double up with results. I certainly don’t want to go all for the result with no style or substance because I think over a while we might get tripped up with that."

A post-match appraisal where the performance was rated five out of 10 was fair and shows the Rangers manager, isn't one to be swept away in emotion. Much work remains to be done, and plenty of red flags need to be addressed yet.