Heart of Midlothian will take a step back in time on Monday night. Cappielow is a ground that time forgot. Rather than a criticism it should be viewed as a compliment. It's a venue that should be cherished. A Main Stand that rejects modernisation. Terracing on three sides. The visiting support will be situated behind the goals and exposed to the elements. The hope is that when the moon rises and floodlights flicker the rain forecasted will have dispersed.

And, of course, the game will be played in the shadow of the iconic and imposing Titan Crane that looks like a relic from an early Star Wars movie. 

It was put to Craig Gordon earlier in the week that Monday night at Cappielow is akin to a cold, rainy night in Stoke. There are certainly parallels.

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Greenock Morton, under Dougie Imrie, have the capacity to make it very uncomfortable for visiting teams. In fact, they take pride in doing so. After all, until the past week, the 'Ton hadn't lost at home since November. Add in the long throws off Lewis Strapp, the patrolling presence of Alan Power, a partisan home support, a tricky surface and you have a challenge that can't and won't be underestimated by Hearts. A concoction that makes for a tantalising cup tie in front of the BBC cameras.

"I cannae wait, it’ll be an occasion for everybody connected with the club," Morton boss Greenock Morton boss Dougie Imrie told Hearts Standard. "We know how difficult it is going to be, obviously, Hearts are a top team this year, playing really well at the moment.

"We know it isn’t going to be easy but we will certainly make it difficult for Hearts and hopefully we can get a positive result."

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Since Hearts fans last saw Imrie, turning out for Hamilton Accies and St Mirren and Inverness CT before that, for whom he scored one of the all-time great goals by an opponent at Tynecastle Park, he has been carving out an impressive managerial career. He, somewhat reluctantly, got involved in coaching, pushed into a role with the 17s and 18s at Accies before moving to Livingston and working under David Martindale. 

In December 2021 Morton were bottom of the Championship, staring League One in the face when they turned to Imrie, who had played one season for the club earlier in his career. He steered them to mid-table safety. The next season the team were in contention for play-off place on the final day of the season, missing out on goal difference.

As for this season, there were doubts when the team won just two of their first 12 league games. That was followed by a run of 16 unbeaten in all competitions. It was ended recently following back-to-back defeats with injuries to key players impacting what was already a small squad. 

Despite possessing one of the smallest budgets in the Championship, if not the smallest, and carrying a squad light on numbers, Morton have continued to retain a key attribute under the management of Imrie: competitiveness. They are the team in the league no one wants to come up against. 

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"That’s the type of team we are, we like to high press, we like to press from the front," Imrie explained. "Just because it is Hearts we won’t be any different. We will give Hearts the respect they are due but we aren’t going to sit back and defend for 90 minutes. We are going to have a go, we’ve got nothing to lose. The players can play with a freedom.

"For me, all the pressure is on Hearts. We want to make it as difficult as we can for Hearts. We don’t want to let them settle into their game, they are a team that like to get the ball down and pass, a lot of combinations. We need to try to nullify that, get after them, make it difficult and try to get players to make mistakes and it might be a bit nervy for them. Then, if we can get the fans behind us and the Hearts fans on their team’s case you never know what can happen."

They are a team that hunts, harries and harasses. They allow the fewest passes per defensive action in the Championship (ie they, as Imrie stated, press the hell out of you). No team has committed more fouls in the league or picked up more yellow cards. Equally, they have suffered the most fouls. There is a reputation and perception that Morton are a physical, long ball team. Often the views of managers or fans of teams who have been beaten by them.

There is no doubt they are direct (no team has played more long passes) but they can play. They have the immensely underrated Alan Power anchoring their midfield. And if you were to make an easy comparison it would be to Livingston when they first got into the Premiership. They may, however, have to do it without their Lyndon Dykes, their target man, their focal point, George Oakley. In the nine league games he hasn't featured, Morton haven't won.

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Still, having already papped out Motherwell - the one thing the Steelmen didn't want to happen owing to Imrie's past at Hamilton - they view Monday night as another opportunity to alter perceptions.

"The game, first and foremost, is on the TV which will give people an insight that we are not just a team that like to play long balls," Imrie said. "We have good players in our team, 90 per cent have played in the top flight. One or two of the young boys that haven’t.

"There is a lot of Premiership experience, a lot of good players in my time that I think get a lot of negative press because of the perception that a lot of them are big and physical and like to play a lot of long balls. I think those who have seen a lot of our games this season, some of the goals we have scored have certainly not been from long-ball tactics anyway."

Watching Morton go about their business it is evident that there has been buy-in from the players, whether it is the experience of the aforementioned Power, Kirk Broadfoot or former Hearts No.1 Jamie MacDonald or younger players such as Michael Garrity and Lewis McGrattan. 

Imrie stresses the importance of honesty. One Morton player Hearts Standard spoke to praised the manager's man management. 

More than playing philosophies that can sound good in interviews and molding players to fit into a style, Imrie, along with assistant manager Andy Millen, strives to get the best out of his players with the right culture, environment and atmosphere.

"There are certain things I live by, values etc, that all comes into play," he said. "The biggest thing I get out of what I do is seeing people enjoy coming to their work. All I ask is they give 110 per cent. We are not going to win every game but as long as my players are coming to their work happy and want to give it their best.

"There is a line that they know when we are at training and match day, we are switched on and ready to go. I just want to make it a happy environment. People can come and take the mickey out of myself and Andy. There is no drama, I’m not going to take offence to that. You have to have that certain element to your environment where people are comfortable and knowing they can have a bit of a laugh and a carry-on in front of the manager.

"I want my environment and culture to be spot on and I think that’s why you see Morton going up the way rather than languishing at the bottom of the table because players enjoy coming to work, they enjoy working under myself and Andy and they know they have that freedom to go and express themselves on the pitch as well."

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For the clash with Motherwell in the previous round Morton the capacity of Cappielow was reduced but there should be more than 7,000 in attendance on Monday. The home side have already sold out tickets in two of their three stands, while Hearts fans have snapped up all the away briefs. Imrie credited his side's support and the "vibe" they created in the win over the Steelmen and is hoping for more of the same.

The occasion and magnitude of the encounter would call for some spirited team talk.

"I think the tie itself, we are one game away from Hampen, I don’t think we will need to say much more than that," he said. "They have 90 minutes to give their all, you never know what could happen, it’s a one-off. If they can go and replicate near enough to the Motherwell game they have got have a chance.

"We’ve done particularly well [against top-flight opposition] even if we haven’t won the game. Start of the season against Ross County, lost narrowly 2-1, went to Ibrox, lost narrowly 2-1, beat Motherwell 2-1. I don’t think I’ll need to say too much. The chance to go to Hampden should be enough to motivate those who start the game and those coming off the bench."

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The focus has been more on the opposition than what he will say as any motivating factor. Imrie was in attendance at Tynecastle Park, a venue he was effusive in his praise of and wish he could have played a home player, for the recent Edinburgh derby, while he has collated plenty of information on Steven Naismith's men. Something he will dilute down and feed to his players.

"I think since I’ve came to the football club it’s been one game at a time and that has never changed," he said of preparations. "I doubt it will ever change. Yeah, we need to give Hearts the respect and we need to give the players a lot more analysis because you need to go more in-depth, it’s not a team we come up against every week.

"Certainly in the Championship, we are playing teams four, five times a season so we’ll need to be more in-depth and go through the players individually. In terms of the week-to-week, what we do on the pitch, that doesn’t change, it’s a normal week for us. 

"I went to watch them against Hibs to get my owm eyes on them, I’ve got one or two other people watching games for me. We get a lot of stuff off of Wyscout etc. It’s more to see the shape. Against Celtic they played a five, against Hibs they played a four, Rangers they played a five so they chop and change.

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"I’ll give my players as much information as I can, on the systems, the set-up they can deploy against ourselves to give them the best information I can. When they go on the park they can then produce the goods hopefully.

"I’ve probably been watching Hearts for the last 10-12 days. The information I will give them is 10-12 minutes long. It’s not long. They have to analyse it in their own way but we will certainly tell them the game plan."

It comes back to Morton being their normal selves. Do that, while using the surroundings, and they will make it difficult for Hearts. 

"They know they are going to come up against a team that are committed, they are going to give it their all," Imrie said. "We canne allow Hearts into their rhythm. We are going to try to make it as difficult and as ugly as we can.

"Hearts are used to the luxury of Tynecastle, a new stand, dressing rooms a perfect, Celtic Park, Ibrox, Aberdeen, Hibs are all the same. No disrespect to ourselves, you are coming here and you can’t swing a cat in the away dressing room. We have got to try to use everything to our advantage.

"We know we are coming up against a top team and we have got to use every avenue we can to make it as an uncomfortable night as possible for Hearts."