No signs of any adverse weather or puddles on the pitch last night but it was certainly raining goals at Windsor Park as Linfield crushed H&W Welders 7-1.
Glenn Ferguson netted a classic hat-trick and there were two debut goals for Michael Carvill, while Welders defender Paul Harbinson bagged a brace of his own - one for each team - as the Blues' domestic campaign kicked off in style.
They opened the scoring when Jamie Mulgrew crossed for Ferguson, but the ace goal-getter was denied a first strike of the new season by the unfortunate Paul Harbinson, who bundled the ball into his own net.
Mulgrew was forced to hobble off soon after, handing a debut to sub Carvill, who very nearly saw the Welders bag an immediate response when Harvey danced through the Blues' rearguard before sending a delicate chip inches wide of the mark.
The visitors were to rue that miss when Linfield moved further ahead just past the half hour, Conor Hagan supplying the pass for Carvill to smash past goalkeeper Tony Miskelly, who was left equally as helpless three minutes later when Ferguson executed a superb flick and volley with his right foot following Aiden O'Kane's corner from the right.
It was nearly 4-0 on 41 minutes when Carvill played Connor Downey through, but his first-time attempt went just past the post.
Welders striker Towell suffered a similar fate nine minutes into the second half after side-stepping a challenge from Noel Bailie and worse was to follow for the Tillysburn men when Downey made it 4-0 virtually straightaway, stroking into an empty net after his initial effort had rebounded off the upright.
Ferguson nodded over the top on 60 minutes before Carvill bagged his second of the night with a right-footed attempt that was too hot for Miskelly.
A breakdown in communication between Addis and Murphy presented the Welders with a 57th minute corner from which Harbinson atoned for his earlier misdemeanour with a header that found almost exactly the same part of the netting.
Ferguson punished some comical defending with a stunning drive into the top corner for 6-1.
Towell was unlucky to hit the post on 81 minutes and from the subsequent counterattack, Ferguson completed his treble with a header from Carvill's cross.
An injury to Hagan meant Linfield were forced to play the final eight minutes with 10 men but that did not stop them steamrolling into the quarter-finals.
LINFIELD: Addis, Hagan, Bailie, Murphy, Douglas, Mulgrew, Gault, McAreavey, Downey, O’Kane, Ferguson. Subs: Curran, Carvill, Lindsay, Miskimmon, Burns.
H&W WELDERS: Miskelly, Rezai, Aston, Murray, McMillen, Harbinson, G Stewart, Bell, Harvey, Towell, Johnston. Subs: Hirthe, Dickson, Adair, McClelland, J Stewart.
Referee: David Malcolm (Bangor).