Craig Levein declared himself pleased at Hearts’ Betfred Cup progress but warned his players to be mindful of last year after drawing Dunfermline in the last 16.
The Edinburgh club overwhelmed Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Tynecastle Park, with two goals from Uche Ikpeazu, two from Steven Naismith and one from Ben Garuccio sealing a second successive 5-0 win.
The reward for topping Group C is a trip to East End Park to face Dunfermline – the team who eliminated Hearts from last summer’s group phase in the same competition.
That 2-2 draw and subsequent penalty shootout loss cost the club’s then-head coach, Ian Cathro, his job. Levein stepped in as his replacement four weeks later.
He was delighted by his team’s performance against Inverness and believes Dunfermline are stronger now than they were 12 months ago.
“We have a recent experience of that in this cup competition last year. We drew at home and lost on penalties. We are away from home this time round,” said Levein.
“I haven’t seen them yet but they seem to have improved their squad from last season if results in this competition are anything to go by. It’s away from home and we will take a reasonable crowd, I’m sure.”
Of the 5-0 win, which followed Tuesday night’s defeat of Cowdenbeath by the same scoreline, Levein added: “I’m happy to have got through. We were obviously favourites because we’re at home but I think Inverness will be one of the sides challenging at the top of the Championship this year.”