Despite the same outcome, it was a major step forward from last year’s Rugby Park humiliation.
Down to ten men and out of the cup at full-time, Allan Johnston’s team left Kilmarnock with their heads held high on Saturday.
This is in stark contrast to last season’s 5-0 League Cup battering in Ayrshire, when Gus MacPherson’s Queens had Kevin Smith dismissed en route to a cup exit.
But this time it was the turn of Stephen McKenna to walk down the tunnel at Rugby Park with his head in hands after a clumsy challenge on Borja Perez after only two minutes.
The Dumfries men protested with referee Mike Tumilty, who was surrounded by several players from both sides, and the visiting support were left outraged by the whistler’s decision.
The outlook looked ominous for the Doonhamers – almost an entire game with a one-man deficit against a team with the passing ability like Kilmarnock would faze most teams.
But in reality, come full-time the SPL team were simply glad to get off the field with their place in the next round completely secured.
Kenny Shiels, who spoke highly of the Doonhamers after the game, clearly didn’t take the second division team lightly and fielded the strongest possible 11 at his disposal.
There was a real sense of optimism among the Queens faithful that their team could pull off another notable cup shock; justified given the upheaval of both Rangers and Hibs this season.
But Johnston’s side were left with a mountain to climb after McKenna’s hurled himself into the legs of midfielder Borja, and the visitors had to re-shuffle their set-up to try and counter Kilmarnock’s advantage.
And the task at hand grew in stature after only eight minutes when Cillian Sheridan lost the attention of Queens captain Chris Higgins to slide the ball past Lee Robinson to give the home side an early lead.
The Doonhamers battled hard and tried to catch Kilmarnock on the break but couldn’t force Cammy Bell into any action in the first half other than a run-of-the-mill save from Chris Mitchell’s free kick.
Shiels’ team pushed for a second and were almost gifted a goal when Derek Lyle gave the ball away in a dangerous area but James Fowler couldn’t take full advantage and struck the bar with his effort.
Queens had a golden chance to level things on the stroke of half-time when Paul Burns teed up Nicky Clark but the in-form striker wasn’t expecting the pass and couldn’t connect properly with the shot, putting the ball wide.
Sheridan was next to hit the woodwork 10 minutes into the second half and the hosts got their second with a well worked counter attack from a Queens corner as Gary Harkins teed up Perez to fire the ball past Robinson.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Killie’s progression looked sure but one thing that can be established from the season so far is that this Queens team should not be underestimated.
Leading scorer Clark came up with the goods yet again, latching onto the end of Ryan McGuffie’s cross to head the ball into the roof of the net to round off an impressive move, setting up a tense end.
The visitors pushed everything forward in search of an equaliser but, unfortunately for the near-thousand travelling support, the Rugby Park team held out for the win.
This was only Queens’ second defeat of the season – both coming to highly talented SPL teams – and further highlighted the second division leaders credentials and ability to dance with the big boys.
Kilmarnock: Bell 7, Fowler 6, O’Leary 6, Nelson 6, Tesselaar 7, Racchi 6 (McKenzie 70), Johnson 5, Perez 6 (Dayton 81), Harkins 8, Sheridan 7, Heffernan 6 (Davidson 86). Subs not used: Letheren, Sissoko. Goals: Sheridan 8, Perez 69.
Queens: Robinson 7, Mitchell 6, Higgins 6, Durnan 7, McGuffie 6 (Holt 86), Burns 7, Young 6, McKenna 1, Carmichael 7 (Gibson 90), Lyle 7 (Reilly 90), Clark 6. Subs not used: Atkinson, Black. Goals: Clark 87.
Referee: Mike Tumilty.