PERHAPS Rod Stewart should be drafted in to liven up all Scottish Cup draws in future. Because, on the face of it, the four quarter finals in this year’s competition offer little for those, this Valentine’s Day, who are hopelessly in love with the romance of the cup.

Magic, of course, can still happen. In late 2013, a Morton side under Allan Moore in far poorer form than Jim Duffy’s side are right now went to Parkhead and won against Neil Lennon’s much-vaunted side on League Cup duty, courtesy of a late Efe Ambrose handball and a Dougie Imrie penalty kick.

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But, if the bookmakers are to believed, surprises are likely to be in short supply when these ties are played in the first weekend of March. They make Falkirk and Morton, two mid-table Championships sides who travel to Rangers and Celtic respectively, 80/1 and 150/1 outsiders for the trophy. What intrigue there is predicted to reside in the two all-Ladbrokes Premiership encounters, and the question of whether Steve Clarke’s rampant Kilmarnock can upset the odds at Pittodrie against Aberdeen, and are Hearts strong enough to win away at Motherwell.

Let’s nail this one straightaway. I am not saying for a minute that this all boils down to some labyrinthine Hampden conspiracy. Everybody knows that introducing warm and cold balls to the proceedings would take a level of competence which on recent events may be far beyond what the SFA can offer.

Moreover, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have both won this competition in the last five years. So what’s the problem, I hear you ask?

Well, whoever and however the balls were pulled out of the hat, it is worth remarking that neither Celtic nor Rangers have had an away tie against any other top-flight opponent in the last three years. And when the semi-finals and finals tick round, regardless of the opposition, they still get to play in Glasgow.

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This is, of course, all the luck of the draw, just a random statistical quirk, but it must be rather galling to clubs like Hibs and Hearts, who have been drawn against each other in the early stages each of the last three seasons.

Add all this to a backdrop where Rangers and now predominantly Celtic have held the top division in this land in a duopoly for more than 30 years, the kind of skewed competitive environment which – regardless of what some will tell you - still quite simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.

The way things are weighted towards the bigger clubs is even more noticeable in the Betfred Cup. Assuming Celtic and Rangers are our European entrants, they need only win four matches to lift the trophy, with two of them sure to take place in Glasgow. It is at least an extra factor to be considered as the debate continues as to whether Murrayfield should take over from Hampden.

Why should clubs like Falkirk and Morton worry? Well, probably they won’t. At the very least they can expect around £32,5000 from the telly and a half share of the gate receipts which far outweigh that, but the beauty of the cup resides in matches where the have-nots of the game do battle with the haves. Ayr United versus Rangers at the weekend was a case in point, even if it ended in an avalanche of goals for the Ibrox side.

There are, of course, all manner of different draw formats in every sport. But ultimately, those competitions which don’t introduce enough jeopardy into proceedings are generally doomed to fail.

The Grand Slams in tennis are arranged around the top-32 seeds – at least until this season when they limit the number of seeds to 16 – a move designed to try to make for a less predictable spread of the field. So played out have the pairings become in Champions League play – and so designed to maximise income from TV markets – there are periodic calls to return to the days of the 1980s when things often boiled down to an open draw.

The quest to tinker with formats continues. We will know more this weekend as to whether 2018 is the year a Welsh team and a Northern Irish team will battle it out for the Scottish League Challenge Cup. Every year there is a mourning about the devalued commodity of the FA Cup. Big Old Firm finals might add value to the Scottish football industry, but the game’s administrators should remain alert to the future of their grand old cup competition.