Hearts manager Jim Jefferies plays down Ibrox draw
Hearts manager Jim Jefferies saw encouraging signs but stressed that not too much should be read into his side's 1-1 draw away to champions Rangers.
"I said before the game, you have to settle down and play about eight to 10 games before it starts to take shape," he said of Hearts' season chances.
"What is enouraging for the Hearts fans and me was the way we went about our business.
"We looked a good balanced side and we have some good players to come in yet."
Jefferies pointed out that Andrew Driver, Kevin Kyle, Calum Elliot and summer signing Jamie Hamill had been unavailable through injury.
"Competition for places is going to be great and should give us a big boost in confidence going into the start of the season," the Hearts boss told BBC Scotland.
Jefferies was forced to replace three other players through injury at Ibrox, which could be a concern ahead of Thursday's Europa League qualifier in Hungary against Paks.
Andy Webster went off after eight minutes with a groin problem that had been troubling him before the game, winger David Templeton suffered a head knock, while midfielder Ian Black's running was restricted by a painful blister.
Mehdi Taouil is also a doubt after picking up a knock.
Jefferies was pleased at the way his side overcame those problems to take a deserved point in Glasgow after David Obua's opener was cancelled by a Steven Naismith reply.
"We did expect Rangers to change it a little bit in the second half, because they were outplayed in the first half," he said.
"We just felt a wee bit aggrieved that we were maybe not a couple up.
"Obua had a great chance in the first half. I think he has gone for power when, if he dinks it, it is just going to float into goal.
"Then we were a little bit unlucky that young McGowan, who had a superb game, just ran with the ball and got caught in possession and, when it was whipped in, we let Naismith get away from us and took it well.
"Rangers had a couple of good chances before that, but after that we restricted them to very little."
Jefferies was pleased with his three new signings - striker John Sutton, midfielder Taouil and, especially, defender Danny Grainger - but reserved most praise for full-back Ryan McGowan, who was up against Rangers debutant Juan Martin Ortiz.
"For me, even though it was a great team performance, I thought young McGowan deserved his man of the match," said the manager.
"He had a terrific game and kept the Spanish lad very, very quiet and won all the tackles and closed down.
"He is a useful player for us and hopefullly this will be a good season for him."
The Australia Under-23 international was more modest.
"I thought, first half, I kept him quite quiet," said the 21-year-old. "He got the better of me a little in the second half, but overall I was pretty happy.
"A few of us are a bit disappointed that we did not come away with the win after the way we played in the first 45 minutes, but we are happy to take a point."