Dundee were unceremoniously dumped out of the William Hill Scottish Cup as they took a pasting at Palmerston against Queen of the South in this fourth round replay.
The two sides had drawn 1-1 at Dens two Saturdays ago but the Dark Blues were a distant second this time round to the Championship outfit.
Prolific striker Stephen Dobbie helped himself to a hat-trick and although his first counter was a cracker, Dundee were very much the authors of their own misfortune at his other two goals.
The Dark Blues now need to pick themselves up – and quickly – with a crunch Premiership clash with fellow strugglers Hamilton looming large on Saturday.
Dundee manager Jim McIntyre made two changes from the team that was beaten by Motherwell at Dens on Saturday with Darren O’Dea and Kenny Miller coming into the starting line up with Andrew Nelson dropping down to the bench and Martin Woods missing out altogether through illness.
The Dark Blues were down to the bare bones with just four outfield subs due to injury and unavailability while striker Benji Kallman has also returned to parent club Inter Turku after his loan spell at Dens was cut short.
Home boss Gary Naysmith also had several players unavailable through injury but Dobbie was fit to take his usual place up front while former Dundee midfielder Nicky Low was also in the starting line-up.
The Dark Blues kicked off with recognised centre-half O’Dea partnering Paul McGowan in centre midfield.
Dundee made a brisk start, passing the ball well on the artificial surface and they had the first big chance of the match in just the seventh minute.
Roarie Deacon swung a corner in from the right with centre-half Ryan Inniss sending a powerful header just over Queens keeper Alan Martin’s crossbar.
Dundee then came agonisingly close to opening the scoring again shortly after when Deacon delivered a free-kick from the edge of the home box with O’Dea’s header shaving the outside of the post.
However, it was the Doonhamers who took the lead in the 12th minute in spectacular fashion – and there were no prizes for guessing who was responsible.
Dobbie cut in from the right before unleashing a looping left-foot shot from 25 yards that flew high past Dark Blues keeper Seny Dieng. Incredibly, it was the striker’s 35th goal of the season so far.
Not surprisingly home tails were up following that stunning opener while Dundee struggled to get back into their stride.
And things went from bad to worse for McIntyre’s men in the 27th minute when they conceded again.
Inniss was short with a back pass with Dobbie nipping in to win possession ahead of Dieng before passing the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the Dundee box.
Not surprisingly, McIntyre hooked Inniss shortly after with young Callum Moore coming on in midfield and O’Dea dropping back into defence.
However, the Doonhamers came close to extending their lead once more in the 37th minute when Lyndon Dykes, 15 yards inside his own half, spotted Dieng off his line and hit an audacious effort which just bounced past the keeper’s right-hand post.
Just before half-time, the home fans were screaming for a penalty when Andy Dales appeared to push Kyle Jacobs over in the Dark Blues’ box but referee Steven McLean was not convinced.
Four minutes after the restart, Queens keeper Martin was called into action to beat away a shot from the left from Andy Dales.
However, as the hour mark approached, the Dark Blues were struggling to make much of an impression while the Doonhamers were dangerous with Dobbie again coming close with a low shot which Dieng dived to save.
However, the striker did secure his hat-trick in the 75th minute and once again it came gift-wrapped from a Dundee defender. This time it was Genseric Kusunga who was hopelessly short with a back pass to Dieng with Dobbie nipping in to gleefully finish low past the exposed keeper.
As the clock ticked down, the Dark Blues huffed and puffed to try to net a consolation goal but to no avail and it was Queens celebrating at the final whistle with a fifth-round tie with Aberdeen at Pittodrie to look forward to.
Attendance – 1,421.
Queen of the South – Martin, Mercer, Marshall, Fordyce, Doyle (Murray, 37), Stirling, Jacobs, Dobbie (Bell, 89), Low, Dykes, Maguire.
Subs not used – Leighfield, Watson, Harvey, Irving.
Dundee – Dieng, Kerr, Ralph, Kusunga, O’Dea, Deacon (Lambert, 45), Inniss (Moore, 31), Dales (Nelson, 76), McGowan, Miller, Curran.
Subs not used – Parish, Jefferies.
Referee – Steven McLean.