Rangers desperately wanted to knock another Scottish Premier League club out of the Scottish Communities League Cup, but they were hopelessly ill-equipped to deliver that last night.
They will continue to harbour their resentments towards the SPL and the clubs which denied them access to it in a summer vote, but Inverness Caledonian Thistle exposed all of that as an irrelevance. They took their chances with a precision which was beyond Rangers, and they sauntered into next week's semi-final draw.
Andrew Shinnie, Gary Warren and a Graeme Shinnie penalty put Rangers away and if it wasn't for Neil Alexander keeping out two Billy McKay efforts, when the striker was through one-on-one, there would have been a 5-0 defeat to rattle the Ibrox foundations. There was never that much between the sides but the hosts' defence fell apart in the second half and even losing three was an embarrassment.
Caley Thistle did the job Motherwell should have done here in the previous round: remaining focused and mentally strong for 90 minutes and calmly picking Rangers off when they made their predictable mistakes. The only consolation for Rangers is they will not now have to face Celtic in this competition. If Caley Thistle can win 3-0 at Ibrox, what might Celtic do?
Just over 28,000 were there to witness it, the vast majority venting their frustration at referee Steven McLean, or the SPL, or the Scottish Football Association, as the match raced away from their team. Even Terry Butcher got it in the neck in the stadium where he was once revered. It would have been reassuring for Ally McCoist to hear his own name ringing out in an appreciative song in the dying minutes but this was still his most horrifying Halloween since childhood. Rangers are at home to Alloa in the Scottish Cup on Saturday. Defeat to an SPL club was pardonable, but the same could not be said if they fall in that one.
The margin of Caley Thistle's win was a reflection of Rangers' dramatically reduced circumstances but it will be rightly embraced in Inverness as a magnificent result for their club. There was no repeat of the previous round in which Motherwell had come to Ibrox and played like lambs, offering no threat to Rangers and folding as soon as they conceded a goal. Clearly Butcher had drummed it into his men that the game could be won in their own heads as well as on the pitch.
Rangers had most of the ball and most of the chances in a lively first half, but Caley Thistle showed an impressively high work-rate to cope with what came at them. Once they had scored, they had the look of a team who knew they were on their way.
The industry shown by the Rangers midfield prevented Caley Thistle from building many attacks but, when they did, Emilson Cribari and Ross Perry again looked an unconvincing central partnership.
Rangers were decisively opened up for the opening goal. Billy McKay fed a pass to Aaron Doran and he put Andrew Shinnie in behind the Rangers' back four. Shinnie was on the Ibrox books as a youth player and accepted that he would have to move away for first-team football, but those were different times. He'd get a game now alright, a fact demonstrated by the cool finish he applied to bury the ball past Alexander. Doran was a constant menace to Rangers too.
Lee McCulloch won most of the aerial balls he contested in the first half and his lay-offs could have worried Caley Thistle, but they were quick to protect their goal. Shiels shot wide, Lewis McLeod had an effort saved from the edge of the area and Little was denied from closer range. McCulloch and Chris Hegarty headers, another go from McLeod . . . Rangers battered at the door without truly coming at Caley Thistle with a convincing sense of menace.
Ultimately they were undone by awful defending. Anestis Argyriou came on for Perry at half-time and went to right-back with Hegarty moving into the middle. Yet when Graeme Shinnie swung over a corner it seemed to hang in the air forever before Warren stooped to head it into the net. One of the persistent questions of the season was asked yet again: where were the Rangers defenders?
McKay's two chances went unconverted thanks to terrific Alexander saves but the Rangers defence had unravelled. When Argyriou brought down Andrew Shinnie there was a penalty for Caley Thistle to make it 3-0, and Graeme Shinnie duly did.
It was one of the great nights of Butcher's managerial career and how he milked it with the 300-or-so visiting fans at full time. When he turned to run off the pitch he was jeered by the few home fans who could be bothered to hang around.
It never used to be like that for Butcher here, but then it never used to be like this for Rangers here either.
Scorers. A Shinnie (27), Warren (59), G Shinnie (79pen)