HIBS head coach Neil Lennon insists Hearts’ recent revival has not altered his view of Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated Edinburgh derby.
The Easter Road manager always thought it was only a matter of time before Tynecastle counterpart Ian Cathro’s reign clicked into gear.
With the new Jambos boss and nine January signings needing breathing space to bed in, Lennon was impressed with last week’s 4-1 thrashing of Rangers and Saturday’s 3-0 success against Motherwell.
However, he is adamant that even before the improving form of Hibs’ sworn enemies he was not expecting anything other than an extremely tough Scottish Cup tie in his first taste of the capital rivalry.
He said: “I don’t feel any different. Ian’s obviously needed a bit of time to, one, bring his own players in and, two, put his own stamp on the club.
“Maybe Hearts are starting to see the fruition of that.
“But we always knew it was going to be a difficult game, no matter what the circumstances are.
“Form goes out the window, it’s a derby, it’s a cup game and it’s who is going to be on top form on that day, or who is going to turn up.”
Hibs turned in a sub-standard display in drawing 1-1 with Ayr United on Saturday to bring to an end an impressive string of performances and results.
But, despite being critical of his players at the weekend, he is satisfied they can approach the mouthwatering clash with Hearts with confidence.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “We’re in good form, we’re unbeaten since the beginning of December. We’ve had five wins in a row and a draw on Saturday.
“But I’m delighted with the application and the attitude of the players. It’s a game they’re looking forward to and the fans are as well.”