Joint holders Caley Thistle reached the third round of the SPFL Trust Trophy, but their revamped team needed patience to see off Highland League opponents Buckie Thistle 4-0.
The hosts made 10 changes for this second round encounter, but got up and running after a couple of scares when on-loan St Mirren striker Lewis Jamieson scored on his debut.
They had to work hard and show patience before getting their second when young defender Cameron Harper got his first senior goal for the club.
Billy Mckay added two goals in the final nine minutes to add gloss to the scoreline.
The Inverness side will now go to League Two Elgin City in the next round on October 9 after the Black and Whites opponents Dunfermline Athletic could not raise a team due to self-isolation, injury or being on international duty.
This was set up as an intriguing match, with the high-flying Highland League visitors confident of causing an upset.
Late drama in Scottish Cup clash
Part of the reason for their optimism stemmed from running ICT close in the second round of last season’s Scottish Cup at Victoria Park when it took a late Daniel Mackay goal to secure a 3-2 win for the Caley Jags.
The teams went into this tie in fine form, with Buckie’s 5-1 rout of Formartine United taking them second in the Highland League behind Fraserburgh.
Caley Thistle’s victory at Kilmarnock last week – their fourth successive 1-0 win – took them top of the Championship.
For joint holders ICT, only full-back Robbie Deas stayed in the starting 11 from the previous week, although he played at centre half alongside Wallace Duffy.
Included in the raft of changes, striker Billy Mckay began along with forward Lewis Jamieson for his ICT debut and captain Sean Welsh was back in the team.
For Buckie, boss Graeme Stewart, the only switch he made was his assistant, Lewis MacKinnon, replacing suspended Sam Morrison in defence.
Buckie, who earned this tie thanks to an impressive 3-1 victory at Brechin City, were well backed by a vocal group in the South Stand.
Early threats from Buckie Thistle
And it was the visiting Jags who threatened first as skipper Kevin Fraser’s drive was saved by Cameron Mackay before Andrew MacAskill crashed the follow-up shot off the crossbar.
The hosts responded when he delightful ball from Aaron Doran played in Anthony McDonald and his low shot was turned behind by goalkeeper Kevin Main.
Home keeper Mackay had to be on his guard again on the 18th minute to block a net-bound header from Sam Urquhart with his feet after he met a cross from Kyle MacLeod.
Caley Thistle hit on the break from that and ex-Hearts kid McDonald swerved a shot just beyond the left post.
Head boy Jamieson opens account
The opener arrived though on 24 minutes when, from a Doran free-kick, 19-year-old Jamieson pounced to head the ball past Main into the net to open his ICT account.
He almost added another soon after that when he rattled the crossbar with a 20-yarder before Fraser reminded fans Buckie were still in it with a 14-yarder effort, which flashed wide of goal.
Just before the break, Main pulled off a fine stop from Welsh after the skipper unleashed a shot when put in the clear by McDonald.
In a quieter second half, Mckay went close with a header when he met a Harper cross as ICT found a rare way through the well-drilled Buckie unit.
Harper gets his first competitive goal
The goal which took the match out of reach arrived on 67 minutes when young Harper applied a looped finish into when he beat substitute team-mate Tom Walsh to the ball after a poor Main clearance.
It was the breathing space they needed, although the Highland League side continued to bare their teeth when Max Barry fired just wide.
The tie was undoubtedly over with nine minutes left when Mckay cashed in on a mistake from Mark McLauchlin and his shot went in off Main for the third.
Mckay wasn’t finished and he was on hand in the box to scramble the ball over the line as he met a delivery from Jamieson.
Despite the changes, it’s a fourth clean sheet for the Caley Jags, with goals well earned over the 90 minutes.
It’s back to league business for both next weekend as Partick Thistle head to Inverness for ICT and Buckie head to champions Brora.
CALEY THISTLE (4-4-2): MacKay 6, Duffy 6, Harper 6, Welsh 6, Deas 6, Mckay 7, Doran 6, Jamieson 7, McDonald 7 (Walsh 64), McAlear 6, Hyde 6 (Allardice 85). Subs not used: Ridgers (GK), Sutherland, Walsh.
BUCKIE THISTLE (4-4-2): Main 7, Wood 6 (Goodall 80), McLauchlin 6, MacKinnon 6 (Cowie 61), Jack Murray 6, Fraser 7, MacLeod 6 (Callum Murray 68), MacAskill 7, Urquhart 6, Pugh 6, Barry 6. Subs not used: Herbert (GK), Munro.
Referee: Calum Scott.
Man of the match: Anthony McDonald.