St Johnstone are third favourites with the bookmakers to win the Betfred Cup after big hitters Celtic and Aberdeen were sent crashing out of the competition at the weekend.
But you won’t find Perth boss Callum Davidson looking beyond the quarter-final test that his team have been given at East End Park.
Saints face Championship leaders Dunfermline next month and, having been part of Stevie Crawford’s coaching set-up a couple of seasons ago, he certainly isn’t taking cup progression at the expense of a lower league side for granted.
As is the case for the other seven clubs still in with a chance of lifting the trophy in February, however, there can be no denying that seeing the team which has dominated the competition in recent years go out, gives added encouragement that this could be the McDiarmid Park side’s chance for Hampden glory.
“It gives people an opportunity to get to a final,” said Davidson. “It definitely gives teams that little bit of hope.
“Every player, coach, manager or member of the backroom staff always wants to get to finals of competitions.
“There is an opportunity but we just need to make sure we concentrate on the next one.
“Dunfermline will be a really tough place to go but it’s the quarter final of a cup and is all to play for.
“When it comes to that stage of the competition it can be down to attitude and how much you want to get to the next round.
“I think my players showed on Saturday that they are desperate to go far in the competition.
“If they go into that game with the same attitude and application, we’ll have a chance of progressing.”
Davidson was actually on the scoresheet the last time Saints and Dunfermline met – a 3-1 win in February, 2012.
“I don’t remember it too well but somebody texted me to say I’d scored in it,” he said.
“I think the goals that day were Davidson, Davidson (Murray) and Croft.
“It will be good to go back and see everyone there. I had a great time helping Stevie Crawford (for a few months towards the end of 2018/19).
“They are doing really well and are the form team in their league. It’s fantastic for Stevie.
“There has been a big transition period with players in and out but he has done a tremendous job.
“Apart from the cup game, I hope he goes on to succeed and take Dunfermline to promotion.”
There are a few important league games to be played before the last eight cup tie – a trip to face Celtic on Sunday the first of them.
Davidson believes the Hoops’ form of champions could return at any time, describing their current predicament as a “blip” rather than a crisis.
“I thought Ross County defended unbelievably well against them,” he said. “They had a really good shape and were really organised.
“Celtic are a top class team with top class players.
“They’ve got a game on Thursday night now (in the Europa League) so they are coming thick and fast to get it out of their system.
“We’ll need to have 11 players on Sunday who are at it to have any chance of getting a result.
“You look at their squad – the players are full internationals who have performed consistently over a large period of time.
“And Neil (Lennon) is a top class manager.
“I’ve just started my career but have been an assistant for seven years and I know the wee blips you go through.
“I’m sure he has the experience, know-how and ability to come through the other end.
“It’s a little blip for them but, more importantly, hopefully our players can go there with the passion to win the game.”
Since Saints last faced Celtic and were sunk by two late, late goals they haven’t been beaten in either league or cup.
This side now has a share of the record for the longest run without a loss as a top flight club.
I think it’s brilliant that the players have gone this amount of games undefeated.
“It’s always nice coming in after a game and not having that feeling of defeat,” said Davidson.
“I think it’s brilliant that the players have gone this amount of games undefeated.
“Most importantly, it’s getting points on the board and through to the next round of cups.
“That is all we have achieved and now we need to try to repeat it and keep the feel-good factor going.”
It will be later in the week before a clearer picture will emerge on Murray Davidson, Jason Kerr and Craig Conway but Davidson is confident Danny McNamara will be available.
“Danny should be OK for Celtic and he had half-trained on Friday,” said Davidson. “It was just too much of a risk to put him in at Motherwell.
“For Jason, we will wait and see how he reacts to the treatment he is getting. Hopefully he will be OK as well.
“Jason wants to get back on the pitch as quickly as he can and we hope it’s just a slight setback for him.”