They were watching an unchanged team from the weekend go up against a side they beat comfortably in a pre-season friendly only a matter of weeks ago at the same venue, after all. It was the ghosts of Tynecastle's less recent past, though, that spooked the Edinburgh club last night.
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In an enthralling contest which saw Hearts prevail 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, it was the contributions of the four former Hearts men - Calum Elliot, Liam Fox, Jason Thomson and Gordon Smith - that gave them a fright on the way to the next round. One created a goal, one scored it, one gave away a penalty to offer the visitors a way back from the brink and the other was a constant threat to his old club. Fox's composure put the Championship team ahead on 50 minutes following good work from Elliot, while Thomson was the culprit at the other end.
It was only when the hosts went down to 10 men through Dougie Hill's 74th-minute red card that the visitors began to assert themselves. While Joe Cardle's dictating play drove Raith forward, it was the creativity of Elliot that was to pick open an already-creaking visiting defence.
The 26-year-old drove between Kevin McHattie and Danny Wilson before cutting back to launch a shot into a ruck of players. A full-blown stramash then broke out, with Kevin Moon and Smith both trying their luck only for former Hearts midfielder Fox to guide a low shot beyond Mark Ridgers, who came on for the injured MacDonald.
It was Thomson who gifted his old team a path back into the match 12 minutes later as his late lunge on Billy King allowed Jamie Hamill to convert. Hamill, who had the thankless task of adding some sturdiness to Gary Locke's central midfield, was in the thick of it soon again as Hill appeared to lash out, sending Hamill crashing to the deck.
Referee Brian Colvin showed no hesitation in sending him off and, despite the visitors' pressure, to penalties they went - a conclusion which had as many plot twists as a Val McDermid novel, the thriller writer whose name is emblazoned on the Stark's Park away stand.
Danny Wilson, Lewis Vaughan, Fox and McHattie all missed to send the tie into sudden death at 3-3, with Thomson, Jason Holt and Ross Callachan following suit, Callachan's miss ultimately gifting Brad McKay the chance to win it. He needed no second invitation, his confident stride preceding a firm shot beyond McGurn to send the visitors through.