AS preparations for Wednesday went this was as close to perfect as we could have wished for.

Another damaging defeat for Liverpool followed by a morale-boosting win for Rovers, there is only one side who will go into Wednesday’s huge FA Cup quarter-final replay with their spirits high.

And it’s not the men in red.

But let’s not kid ourselves, Rovers will remain firm underdogs for the Ewood Park encounter, not least because of the sheer amount of players they could have unavailable for it.

As good as this emphatic victory over 10-man Leeds was, it was one that could have come at a cost with strikers Rudy Gestede and Chris Brown coming off with tightness in their hamstrings.

The loss of Gestede against Liverpool, in particular, would be a big blow given the immense contribution he made in the initial tie between the teams.

But Rovers, who were already without eight first-team players through injury, are now well versed in dealing with depleted ranks.

And there is a strong argument to suggest they perform better when the chips are down and when they have been written off.

To mount a serious push for promotion in the future this relatively young side will need to show they can cope when the expectation is on them.

But that is a quibble for another day.

For now let’s bask in the glory of win that was not only Rovers’ biggest in the Championship this season, but also their third in succession away from home in the league, the first time that has happened since January 2006.

It was also their fourth in a row over their Roses rivals.

No wonder, then, that Leeds, who have failed to win a single meeting between the sides since April 2004, are sick of the sight of Rovers.

But buoyed by a five-match unbeaten run and backed by a fervent home crowd, they must have thought this was their chance to break the hoodoo.

Refreshed Rovers, however, had other ideas and their pre-match assertions that their focus was solely on Leeds and not on Liverpool certainly rang true.

But that should never have been in doubt as anyone who witnessed their showing in the victory at Sheffield Wednesday prior to last month’s trip to Anfield would testify.

This, though, was an altogether more impressive and polished performance, both before and after Rudy Austin’s mindless 39th-minute sending off.

Before the midfielder hit out at Ben Marshall fired-up Leeds had more of the pressure if not the chances.

But Rovers, with 19-year-old goalkeeper David Raya making an accomplished debut between the posts, managed the game and the occasion superbly.

And, after Austin was rightly given his marching orders, they made their opponents pay with a ruthlessness they have too often lacked this season.

Tom Cairney, Jordan Rhodes and Jay Spearing all found the net and come the final whistle their well-beaten opponents could have had no complaints had they been on the end of a real hiding.

Leading marksman Rhodes hit the bar and then the post, either side of notching his 17th goal of the campaign, while Marshall also rattled the woodwork after Gestede was denied by a fine stop.

Gestede had to settle for providing the game’s opening goal, the striker chasing down a ball over the top from the excellent Lee Williamson and firing over a cross that made its way to Cairney.

The midfielder had failed to hit the target since August yet you would never have guessed by the way he confidently dispatched his third of the season.

That was Gestede’s last act before he limped down the tunnel.

But his departure was softened by the impact his replacement Brown made during his 17 minutes on the field.

The targetman, who has saved his best displays for away from home, signalled his threat when he sent Marshall off on a thrilling run that ended with him crashing a shot against the upright.

Brown then played a key role in the two goals that settled the contest, firstly crossing for Rhodes to head home his fourth in his last three appearances against Leeds and then playing in Marshall to set-up Spearing’s first for the club.

And, with Marshall revelling at right-back and the direct Paul Taylor a lively arrival off the bench, it could have got even better for Rovers.

But, just as in the first half after he latched on to a Cairney pass, Rhodes was denied by the frame of the goal after being set free by Taylor.