NEIL LENNON has urged Hibs to ‘nip in the bud’ a worrying sense of deja vu in their title bid.
The Easter Road men again have the excitement of a Scottish Cup semi-final to look forward to after ending an infamous 114-year wait for the trophy last year.
Their incredible knockout progress last season also saw them reach the League Cup final before losing to Ross County.
But they suffered badly in the league, going on a run of just one win in eight that allowed Rangers to storm to the Championship title.
The capital outfit sit top of the second-tier and could strengthen their grip on first place with a win against promotion rivals Dundee United on Friday night.
They head for Tannadice buoyed by their cup form but also on the back of a run of four league games without a win.
And Lennon has warned they must guard against a repeat of last seasons’s spectacular collapse amidst the excitement of cup success.
Lennon, who described reports linking him with a summer move for Rangers striker Kenny Miller as ‘speculation’ said: “Psychologically, the cup has been a distraction, no question, and it showed in the body language and the performances.
“But now we don’t have that for a while so we can switch that off.
“That is down to the players. I can say what I want time after time after time, but they have got to switch on to the league now.
“We are seeing similarities with this time last year, which is something I want to nip in the bud – as quickly as possible.
“There’s no question it is psychological.
“Last year, they went eight games with just one win but they still had the cup wins.
“We’re having a decent cup run again and now we’re four without a win in the league so there is no question there are similarities.
“Now, the semi-final is out of the way and the League Cup is done and dusted, so the only thing that we should be concentrating on is the league.”
Although they have not won as many as they would have liked, last week’s midweek defeat to St Mirren was Hibs’ first loss since the 1-0 reverse to United at Tannadice on December 2.
That disappointment sparked a 13-game unbeaten run for Lennon’s side, including a comprehensive 3-0 hammering of the Tangerines at Easter Road in January.
And he is optimistic they can use Friday night’s clash as another springboard in their bid to return to the top-flight.
He added: “The St Mirren defeat was our first in three months. We had a good response to losing at Tannadice the last time.
“I’m hoping we can go on a similar run again that might see us over the line.
“We are still in a strong position and we know what a win would do for us.”