I've received some emails with cover letter-like content, but no attached cover letter.
When you ask for a "cover letter" then what you're asking for is an introduction for the candidate, which gives you some hint to their personality, motivation, and general suitability for the position.
Why care how it was sent, as long as it is easily readable? I have personally never sent a cover letter as an email attachment, but always used the inline email description. I would consider the email content to be the cover letter. Perhaps this custom varies per locality, but as far as I know this is very common at least in The Netherlands. A quick internet search reveals that for English-speaking localities some people recommend "send as attachment", some as "send as inline", and others as "no one really cares". From example from here:
I mean, people who hire may have individual preferences, but no one is going to penalize you over doing it in their less-preferred way. It’s like asking “should my hair have bangs when I go to an interview?” No one cares. And about half of the candidates I see do it one way and half do it the other way.
Dismissing a candidate just because they didn't choose to use an attachment means you've just guessed that the candidate understood that you wanted an email attachment. What you really care about is the content, and not how it was sent.
Even if you very clearly stated that you wanted an attachment in the job posting you need to think if you really want to outright dismiss a candidate over such a minor oversight. Perhaps they sent out 20 applications that day? It's easy to forget such a small thing, even if they did their research well. Personally, I think it would be unwise to dismiss someone over such a minor oversight if the rest of their cover letter/resume is looking good.