If Geordi had not been demoted, could he have been second officer? Or should I say, could Worf be first officer and have a subordinate out-rank him?
In my opinion rank doesn't always seem to matter for example Troi was promted to Commander in Season 7 while Worf was still a Lieutenant. Even though Worf had a lower rank I didn't see him as subordinate to Troi. Someone else could prove me wrong though.