Dundee manager Neil McCann left no one in any doubt about why his team ran out of steam at Ibrox.
Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Rangers was their third game in just six days, having played Hearts at home the previous Sunday and Celtic away on Wednesday night.
It had all been going so well for the Dark Blues, who were the better team in the 1-1 draw with the Jam Tarts and then produced a fine display in a goalless draw against the Hoops at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.
However, it all went wrong against the Light Blues.
It just wasn’t their day as the hosts scored through Kenny Miller on 39 minutes, Alfredo Morelos tapped in on 68 then Jamie Murphy made it three on 79 minutes.
In the final few seconds, man-of-the-match Daniel Candeias made it 4-0 when he smashed a shot past sub goalkeeper Calum Ferrie, who had replaced the injured Elliot Parish five minutes earlier.
As well as the goals, Rangers struck the woodwork three times so it could have been much worse.
McCann, looking annoyed and frustrated in the media room after the game, felt the hectic schedule had finally taken its toll on Dundee and that it was too much to ask his players to face three important fixtures in such a short space of time.
“I can’t be too hard on them,” said McCann.
“The position we were in was unfair on the players and our club.
“We’ve had three games in six days, two in Glasgow, including one which Celtic didn’t want and could have been moved.
“It was a shocking decision to play it.
“I am aggrieved about that because it asked a hell of a lot from us.”
McCann’s dark mood wasn’t lightened any by a shocking foul on his striker Craig Wighton by Rangers defender Bruno Alves late in the game.
Wighton, just back from long-term injury, was completely wiped out by the home player just outside the Light Blues’ box.
“I have to say that was a disgusting challenge from Alves – a joke,” he said.
“I’ve got a boy who’s just returning from a cruciate ligament and that’s a scissor action.
“It is almost thigh-high.
“It’s a yellow card but could easily have been red. It’s a shocking challenge.”
As for the actual football, the Dens men were enjoying a good spell just before they lost the opener to Miller.
The Dark Blues probably should have scored just three minutes before that first goal when a great reverse pass from Roarie Deacon played in Sofien Moussa, only for the big Tunisian to shoot over the bar when it looked easier to hit the target.
Dundee’s Simon Murray then should have done better on 51 minutes when great build-up play from Glen Kamara saw the midfielder slide the ball to the striker, whose shot was saved by keeper Wes Foderingham.
Rangers had plenty of chances of their own, though, and they added to their tally in the second half through Morelos, Murphy and, finally, Candeias to finish up as worthy winners.
The defeat leaves the Dark Blues now four points clear of Ross County, who occupy the play-off spot ahead of basement boys Partick Thistle. The Jags trail the Dens men by five points.
So it is all to play for going into the post-split fixtures.
The good thing, from a Dundee perspective, is that they don’t look like a relegation-threatened side despite this heavy loss at Ibrox.
There are injury concerns going forward, with key midfielder Paul McGowan missing on Saturday after picking up a knock in training and goalie Parish suffering a nasty facial injury.
Also, their record against the teams in the bottom six is not the best.
Nevertheless, you still get the feeling that there is enough quality in this Dundee side to see them to safety.
As for Rangers, they didn’t have to play too well to win the game comfortably in the end.
However, their midfielder Andy Halliday admitted that the Dens men did have them worried for a while.
“We’ve had too many disappointing results in the past few so it was important to beat Dundee,” he said.
“It was certainly needed.
“I thought Dundee were probably the better team in the first half.
“Neil McCann has them playing very good football and they implemented that well.
“They managed to keep the ball and frustrate us but the first goal came at a key time.
“It deflated Dundee and it lifted us and in the second half we played better.”