Until someone can demonstrate why small (~2.5 gal) tanks can't cycle or are difficult, I'll call it an myth.
Both of my 3 gals cycled quickly and cleanly, and I've had no trouble with them. I've heard of many small tank cycles here on this forum.
The filter is the most important part of the cycle. Cycle the filter, not the tank. There are two options:
---Stock your ten gal and monitor your water parameters closely for months. Eventually it will cycle, but your fish will be living in a weak ammonia solution until it does.
---Stock your 10gal and make lots of water changes to keep your ammonia well below 0.25ppm. Put your filter into the small tank and cycle it aggressively. With any luck, in about 3 weeks, you can put your cycled filter into the 10 gal which is then effectively cycled.