Hibs defender Darren McGregor insists racing to a six point lead over Dundee United at the Championship summit would send out a huge signal of intent.
Neil Lennon’s side can stretch their advantage with victory in Friday’s top of the table televised showdown at Tannadice.
The Leith outfit are back on form following a sticky patch having won four out of their last five undefeated matches, and centre-half McGregor is keen to build on that momentum against United.
McGregor said: “It’s definitely a benchmark. The league won’t be won in December but if we get that six point gap then there is a mentality there to maintain it and kick on from there.
“But football is so unpredictable to think a six point gap would be enough to kick on.
“We just need to go into the game and try to win it.
“It’s a big one and that’s what you are in football for, the big games.
“I think at the start of the season people would probably have pinpointed ourselves and Dundee United as being the ones contesting for the top of the league.
“The last time at Easter Road it was one apiece so we have a point to prove and we are confident going into the game.
“There’s always pressure but as the gaffer says, you would rather be top than mid-table or bottom – so we have to handle that.
“We need to get out of this league and everyone knows the repercussions of not doing that, so we have to handle the pressure.
“We are at a big club, a massive club – so the pressure is on us to win.
“We are aware of that and we need to step up to the mark every week.”
McGregor is out of contract next summer and admits that wrapping up the league early is an incentive for the 13 players who face an uncertain future.
The 31-year-old added: “The club are in a position whereby they can’t be handing out two, three, four year deals to anybody because of the current climate.
“I am aware of that although at my age I don’t think I’d get a four year contract, I’d be happy with a couple.
“But I think we are all aware of the predicament we are in and that’s more of an incentive for players to step up to the mark and really push for that points gap, so that come towards the end of the season we are in a position where we can bargain, if there’s something there.
“But it’s a bit rich me saying I want this or that when the season is only a quarter done.”
Hibs will go into the United clash without John McGinn after the influential midfielder was forced to undergo surgery to repair a persistent ankle injury and McGregor admits the Scotland internationalist will be a huge loss.
He added: “He sets himself such a high standard that when he’s off the pace a bit he’s still an eight or a nine every week. Someone like him is irreplaceable.”