This was a point gained rather than two dropped on a night where Rangers wanted to win but could not afford to lose. It was a match of mixed emotions, of juxtaposed conclusions and one that left Philippe Clement with as many questions as answers over where this side are right now.

Come the end of the Group C campaign, the draw earned in Prague could prove the difference between success and failure for Rangers. Two home fixtures against Sparta and Aris Limassol now await and a place in the knockout rounds is there to be claimed.

Rangers have done some of the hard work in this section, but they have also done it the hard way. The opening night victory over Real Betis stands as their finest achievement of the season, while the defeat in Cyprus on matchday two was a reminder of the depths that this squad can plunge to. A couple of weeks and another change in the dugout on, Clement has been left with much to ponder.

Some of those deliberations are for the here and now. Others can wait until after the two matches against Hearts that are the bookends to a trip to Dundee next midweek.

“I am not thinking about it, I'm looking at Sunday,” Clement said when asked how he assessed the remainder of the section now that the halfway stage has been reached. “I also don't want my players to think like that, I don't want mathematicians in my dressing room, I want players who go full every game, and to focus on that.”

Rangers could so easily have been on the end of a pretty comprehensive defeat in the Czech capital. Conversely, they should have been heading home on Friday with a win to their credit.

READ MORE: Sparta Prague 0-0 Rangers: Instant analysis from Europa League draw

A first half that was permeated by indecisive defending and non-existent attacking was followed by a second period that saw Clement’s side grow into the encounter individually and collectively. It was another Jekyll and Hyde showing from a group who are consistently inconsistent.

Towards the end, it looked like Rangers were the most likely winners. Ultimately, both Clement and counterpart Brian Priske – a former team-mate and long-time friend – had to settle for a point each, a result that leaves them sitting level behind Betis and ahead of Aris.

It was the Ibrox boss who would have been most relieved at that outcome. He is cognisant that the results and the performances must be married together but sometimes the ends justifies the means. This wasn’t pretty at times, but it was effective overall for Rangers as periods that were less than encouraging were followed by those that gave supporters reason to be cautiously optimistic.

The moments, the fine margins, just didn’t go their way. Sam Lammers saw his effort from the edge of the area well saved by Peter Vindahl, the Sparta keeper, while the fingertip stop that diverted Danilo’s strike – one that was hit with pace and precision from a tight angle in the left channel - onto the bar was even better. A James Tavernier free-kick was routinely dealt with by Vindahl and he wasn’t worked when Nicolas Raskin narrowly missed the target after advancing into a shooting position.

Those phases of play were the positives for Clement to take. Danilo made a marked difference after coming off the bench and is surely now in line for a start. At the other end, Jack Butland was again a commanding, confident presence as he continues to lead the way for this side.

Had it not been for the Englishman, Sparta would have been long out of sight by the time that Rangers rallied in the closing stages. A smart double-save to deny Veljko Birmančević and Qazim Laçi inside five minutes set the tone for Butland. He was helpless when Laçi lashed an effort wide from 18 yards and Prague had further openings through Birmančević and Jan Kuchta. Rangers had no way of playing through the aggressive press from the hosts and the spaces within their makeshift defence, one which received little assistance from an anonymous midfield in front of them, were found too easily and too often.

At that stage, Sparta had dominated in terms of the statistics. They outnumbered Rangers 13-1 in shots. The only one that Clement’s side registered was a wild swipe from John Lundstram that, somewhat bizarrely, came from a Ben Davies corner.

The interval was crucial for Clement. He used the time wisely, showing his players images of where the spaces were opening up for Prague and the assessment of the first half being ‘not what I want to see from my team’ would have been made firmly but fairly by the Belgian.

He was able to take heart from the reaction thereafter and he acknowledged the importance of picking up a point on the road in Europe. That does, though, come with a caveat.

“But I am a winner, I want to win always,” Clement said. “I want my players to have the same mentality and I saw it after the game. They were disappointed they hadn’t won and that’s the mentality we need for the next few months.”

A win and a draw from his first two matches in charge represents a solid start to Clement’s reign. If those results can be followed with a victory over Hearts this weekend, he will have given himself a foundation to build on as he continues to, as he puts it, plant the seeds in his squad. The green shoots of recovery must continue to grow at a steady pace and judgements on the 49-year-old must be made with a reminder of the squad that he is working with and the situation that he is working in.

Clement has referenced the ‘story’ of this side on a couple of occasions since he was unveiled as Michael Beale’s successor. He is relying on the same cast list at present as some members of the squad work their way back to fitness. While everyone will get the chance to audition for a starring role, it will become evident nearer the end of the year just who will be front and centre and who will be written out at Ibrox.

Davies and Abdallah Sima were singled out for praise on a night where Clement had to alter the blueprint that had been laid out at Ibrox just days previously. Davies was the name on the team-sheet that replaced Borna Barisic but it was Sima that occupied the left flank as the switch to a back three required a selfless shift from the forward on his return to the Czech Republic.

Davies earned his plaudits and his clean sheet alongside Connor Goldson and John Souttar. It had been a ‘special week’ for Clement after losing Barisic and Dujon Sterling and being left without Ridvan Yilmaz. That is just one of the Beale legacy issues that he is dealing with right now.

Two of the others are well known and this was another night where Lammers and Cyriel Dessers failed to meet the expectations. The pair were signed to provide and score the goals that turned Rangers from challengers into champions domestically and to allow Beale’s side to compete on the continent. Once again, there was very little there, even if Clement praised them for doing a ‘good physical job’.

READ MORE: Can Cyriel Dessers become key Rangers scorer for Philippe Clement?

Clement expects and demands more than that, though. He has been satisfied with the resilience shown against Hibernian and Sparta but technical and tactical advancements will be sought with every session and every match, even when the turnarounds are as tight. It will take time and the best way for him to earn it is to keep the wins coming while the marginal gains are found.

His message to the players post-match centred on regrouping and recovering to allow them to go again at the weekend. He was encouraged by the way that those on his bench influenced the match as Danilo and Scott Wright stepped up after stepping in to the action. If Rangers are to be successful this season, one of them in particular needs to come to the fore.

“I didn't know him really long, I saw him at Ajax and Feyenoord,” Clement said after Danilo added to his nine-minute cameo against Hibernian with a quarter of an hour on matchday three. “He has killer capacities in the box, he's a goal scorer, I want to make him a striker who works hard not only thinking about scoring goals because that's a part we need, he has the individual actions to make a difference. That's what we expect not only to score goals but also to do a job for the team. He's shown bright things the last couple of days that's why he got minutes, with a good save otherwise it was a brilliant way to end.”

It was not to be for Danilo or for Rangers on this occasion. Yet there was enough to suggest that there is more to come as Clement continues to make his presence felt.

The negatives should not be needlessly exacerbated, nor the positives excessively indulged. This was good, to a degree, but not great. This was better, to an extent, but not enough.

It was a point that was deserved. It could prove to be defining for Rangers and Clement in more ways than one this season.