The Tannadice side were knocked out of the SFL competition at the quarter-final stage by the Bairns on penalty kicks after dominating for long spells. They passed up a whole host of chances before being punished from the spot after extra-time. That defeat still rankles with Houston and his players so he has urged them to use the memory of it to spur them on against the Diamonds.
He said: “The Falkirk game was a lesson that when you create chances you have to take them.
“That was a huge disappointment and it is still in my mind and it’s still in the players’ minds.
“We created a lot of chances that night but didn’t take them and were punished for that.
“What it shows is that in cup competition when you get opportunities you have to put them away because it can come back to haunt you if you don’t.
“It is easy saying it but the big thing is going out there and actually doing it.
“But the lads will be well up for it because they are determined to do well for this club.”
Houston led United to the cup in 2010, only six months after taking over from Craig Levein, and would dearly love to savour Hampden success again. He said: “Once you have had a taste of it you always want to repeat it.
“There’s not that many left from the cup-winning team but there’s a few and the ones who were not here will be keen to taste it for themselves.
“But we have to get past Airdrie first, which will be a really tough test.”
United have had Airdrie watched several times ahead of today’s game and Houston insists they will treat the part-timers with plenty of respect.
He also does not believe their plastic pitch will have an influence on the outcome.
He added: “The pitch won’t be a factor, we won’t make any excuses at all about it.
“We have trained on it, it’s one of the better surfaces you get and we have already been there in a competitive game this season. There are certain aspects which are different from grass but it’s not something we are even thinking about. We have had Airdrie watched loads of times.
“I have watched them, Stevie Campbell has watched them, then Gary Kirk and Ian Jenkins.
“We always try to be as thorough as we can because we know they’re a decent side and we respect them.
“They have picked up in recent weeks and are on a really good run of form.
“They have a great balance of youth and experience. Their striker, Ryan Donnelly, has scored a lot of goals and is supposedly attracting interest from a few SPL clubs.
“While the likes of Jamie Stevenson and Willie McClaren are really talented players.
“They also have good experience in Derek Holmes, Paul Lovering and David Lilley so they have a real good mix.”