All four divisions represented in quarter-finals
7 March ~ There is a world-turned-upside-down aura about this weekend's Scottish Cup quarter-finals with teams from all four divisions represented. Dumbarton and Albion Rovers could upset more famous opponents, Aberdeen and Rangers, respectively, who appear overly fixated on the semi-finals and possibly renewing their hateful rivalry. Aberdeen are favourites for a domestic cup double which would reprise their glory days of the 1980s. With Ibrox hosting both semis, Rangers sense that their post-liquidation story could include a major cup final appearance.
Aberdeen welcome Dumbarton on Saturday. Both teams lost their last Scottish Cup finals by four goals to Rangers – Aberdeen in 2000, Dumbarton in 1897. In the previous round this season the Dons won at Celtic Park, venue of this season's final. Consolidating second place, they then became the first side to win a 2013-14 Premiership game against Celtic. Manager Derek McInnes, 11 months in the job, might finally exorcise the memory of Alex Ferguson's triumphs which hung over so many of his predecessors.
February's thrashing of St Johnstone in the last four of the League Cup convinced Aberdonians their 21st century semi-final hoodoo is over. They'd love to reaffirm this at Ibrox, where they haven't won in 22 years. But 32-year-old manager Ian Murray has stabilised part-time Dumbarton in Scotland's second tier, and won the division's January Manager of the Month. In the previous round Dumbarton won at Championship rivals Alloa Athletic, who took Aberdeen to penalties at Pittodrie in this season's League Cup.
Despite on-going financial instability, Rangers have a Premiership squad in Scotland's third tier. They haven't lost over 90 minutes this season but exited the League Cup, after extra time, to tiny Forfar Athletic. They recently dropped League One points, for only the second time, to Stenhousemuir – the side Albion Rovers overcame to set up Sunday's tie.
League Two Albion reached their only Scottish Cup final in 1920, beating Rangers in the semis. They lost comfortably to the same opponents in the early rounds of this season's Ramsdens Cup, the tournament for lower-league sides. But they eliminated Premiership high-flyers Motherwell in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. Rangers manager Ally McCoist is continually criticised for the stilted nature of his team's performances, and many fans fear what would happen to his team – and job security – were he to meet Aberdeen or any of the other three Premiership sides remaining in the competition. In the remaining ties, Inverness Caledonian Thistle host Dundee United and St Johnstone travel to Championship Raith Rovers.
A 1989-90 cup double in which both halves of the Old Firm were beaten wasn't enough to save Alex Smith from the sack as Aberdeen manager. And I watched stunned as some Rangers fans, unhappy with a meagre 1-0 win over Falkirk, walked out of the 2009 Scottish Cup final before the trophy presentation. Time grants perspective but it should also warn against getting dangerously ahead of yourself. Alex Anderson