What to look out for in the Scottish Cup third round

By Andrew SouthwickBBC Scotland

Shocks, hoodoos and a long-awaited derby. This weekend's Scottish Cup third round is eagerly anticipated.

The tournament delivered an exhausting yet brilliant final in December, when Celtic completed a quadruple treble by beating Hearts on penalties.

Hearts are already out of this year's competition, shocked 2-1 by Brora Rangers. And, on Friday, Inverness Caledonian Thistle came out on top in the first meeting with Highland rivals Ross County in nearly two years.

Celtic are hoping for a fifth consecutive Scottish Cup but have a 58-year jinx to settle first.

BBC Scotland takes a look at what to expect in the pick of this weekend's ties.

Best chances for a cup shock?

We'll need to go some to top Highland League champions Brora knocking out eight-times winners Hearts. But the competition is only at the third-round stage and still in its infancy.

Brora now host League Two promotion hopefuls Stranraer. They go into it still as underdogs, but with home advantage, can they continue the cup run into the last 16?

With Motherwell's struggles down at the bottom end of the Scottish Premiership, could they be another Highland League scalp when they travel to Formartine United? This one may be an even bigger shock if manager Paul Lawson can pull that one off against his former club.

Formartine were sixth in the Highland League last season. They beat Haddington Athletic 2-1 in the first round, got past League Two side Annan Athletic on penalties and now host a Motherwell side smarting from a 4-1 thrashing by Kilmarnock before the international break.

Stenhousemuir produced one of the cup's biggest-ever shocks when they knocked out Roy Aitken's Aberdeen in 1995. They host Premiership Kilmarnock on Saturday, but last season the League Two side were the victims of a cup bashing of their own when they lost 3-0 to Penicuik Athletic.

Both Aberdeen and Hibernian face tricky away trips to Dumbarton and Queen of the South respectively. It took an 86th minute Sam Cosgrove penalty for Aberdeen to send Dumbarton packing last season. Could one of those two slip up?

'Football is my release'

Can the Old Firm be toppled?

This season's League Cup final between St Johnstone and Livingston was a welcome sight for those who prefer their Hampden showcases not to be dominated by one of the Old Firm sides.

Could it happen in the Scottish Cup too? The last time neither Celtic or Rangers graced a final in the same season was in 2014, when Aberdeen and St Johnstone lifted that year's two trophies.

The top two in the Premiership take on the top two in League One. Celtic are at home to Falkirk and the Glasgow side haven't beaten the Bairns in the Scottish Cup since 1963.

They've met three times since then, with Falkirk winning 2-0 at Brockville in February 1993. They met again in the 1997 semi-final at Ibrox, with Kevin James' late header ensuring a replay for Falkirk after Tommy Johnston's first ever goal for Celtic.

But, when they met again, Falkirk prevailed through Paul McGrillen's winner, a result that spelled the end of Tommy Burn's reign as Celtic manager.

Should Falkirk extend their unbeaten Cup run against Celtic, it will be the first time the current holders have finished a season without a trophy since Tony Mowbray's time as manager in 2009-10.

Paul Hartley's Cove Rangers, second in League One, are up against Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox. Perhaps their best hope of victory lies with Rory McAllister, who scored the winner for Peterhead when they beat Rangers 2-1 in 2013.

The best Cove have ever done in the cup was reaching the fifth round three seasons ago, managing to take the scalp of Airdrieonians on the way. It's fair to say, if they can knock out Steven Gerrard's side this weekend, it will eclipse anything they have done previously on their cup travels.

Is this finally the year for...

This year. This is the one you have a funny feeling about. Your taxi driver has been telling you about some crazy omens. Your dog had a dream about it. It's all set up for this year to be, finally, that one where the wait to lift the trophy will be over.

It will be 30 years in May since Motherwell last won the cup, or any silverware at all. Well knocked out Aberdeen in the third round that year and now face a team from Aberdeenshire whose players sometimes shop in Aberdeen, so it's definitely meant to be.

When Hibs won the cup in 2016 for the first time in 114 years, they handed the unwanted 'biggest-club-to-have-not-won-the-cup-for-ages' title over to Dundee, who haven't brought it back to Dens Park since 1910 but have twice peeked out of the curtains to watch their next-door neighbours Dundee United load it off the team bus. It is now a 111-year wait for them.

Maybe it is finally Aberdeen's chance after a 31-year wait, with new manager Stephen Glass being ushered in at just the right time.

Or, after waiting their entire existence to win the Scottish League Cup, maybe St Johnstone are going to do the cup double.