OWEN COYLE caused something of a stooshie the other day when he stated that Rangers were not among his top-five tips to lift the William Hill Scottish Cup this season.

Based on this comprehensive demolition of an admittedly hapless Dunfermline Athletic side, you suspect there will not be too many of Rangers' prospective opponents in the quarter-finals similarly writing them off.

Stephen Gallacher, recent winner of golf's Dubai Desert Classic, will make the draw tomorrow afternoon following the conclusion of the tie between Dundee United and St Mirren and there will be a few hoping to avoid Ally McCoist's side in the next round, especially at Ibrox.

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A tie against an SPFL Premiership side would likely serve as a useful barometer for measuring the state of this Rangers team and their readiness for Championship football next season. Last year's cup duels against top-flight opposition returned something of a mixed bag, an impressive League Cup win over Motherwell undone by comprehensive defeats by Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Dundee United.

McCoist believes that this current group are better-equipped to cope with the step up in class and now it is down to fate to see whether they get their chance to find out for definite.

"It's great to be in the quarter-finals, it's a boost for everyone," said the Rangers manager. "It's the showpiece tournament and we want to give the fans something to look forward to in the next round. For the majority of the game, the lads were really, really good."

How this Rangers side would fare against a team better than League One standard is difficult to say. What can be stated with greater certainty, however, is that they will surely have to work harder to pick their way through a Premiership side's defence than they did last night.

Dunfermline needed to be watertight at the back if they were to have any chance of recording a first Ibrox victory since 1972 and a porous defence ensured that was never really on the cards. Jim Jefferies' side offered an occasional threat from middle to front, in the first half especially, but a defence that leaked like Julian Assange's favourite informer gave them no hope of progressing.

"I said to the players afterwards that Rangers had been complaining after the last two times we played them about us being physical," said Jefferies. "Tonight we never laid a finger on them. If Rangers didn't like what we did the last time we should have given them more of it and we might have had a better chance."

Dean Shiels was the man to benefit most from such a timid approach, the Northern Irishman claiming a hat trick to extend his recent run of fine form. From Dunfermline's point of view, however, all three of his goals were entirely avoidable.

David Templeton was credited with an assist for the first after eight minutes but in truth his hopeful back heel in the penalty box should have been hoofed out of the park by Ryan Williamson. Instead the defender allowed Shiels to nick in and finish past Ryan Scully in the visitors' goal.

Rangers' second after 24 minutes was not quite as embarrassing but had the effect of killing the tie stone dead. Fraser Aird was afforded space to float in a cross with the outside of his right boot, picking out Jon Daly whom the Dunfermline defence had elected not to mark. Scully did well to push away the Irishman's downward header but only as far as Shiels, who thudded in the rebound.

The former Kilmarnock player, in fact, could have had a first-half hat trick only to fall over as he fastened on to Aird's pass but would make amends within two minutes of the restart. Lee Wallace's shot from the left looked certain to be gathered by Scully but it escaped his grasp, squirting to Shiels, who rammed in his third goal and his team's fourth. He departed after 75 minutes to a rapturous round of applause.

Rangers' third had been scored by Templeton after 37 minutes. Again it was hardly a defensive masterclass, the winger turning Ross Millen inside-out before skelping a shot past into the net. Coincidentally or otherwise, the defender did not reappear for the second half.

Dunfermline, Rangers' closest challengers in League 1, had made the right noises about being right up for the tie but never recovered from losing an early goal. They created very little of note to test Cammy Bell, the goalkeeper saving well from Ryan Wallace's first-half shot but with nothing significant to do thereafter.

This was as comfortable a night as Rangers' could have hoped for. Their prospective cup rivals would have taken note.