Marvin Bartley insists Hibs fans will have to dust down the ‘Natural Order’ banner if they finish above city rivals Hearts this season.
Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Motherwell has moved the Leith outfit to within two points of fifth place Hearts, who are have struggled for form since being ousted at the Premiership summit by Celtic in November.
The Edinburgh rivals meet on April 6 at Tynecastle and midfielder Bartley insists catching their Gorgie counterparts is a huge incentive.
He said: “You chase the team above you and it just happens to be Hearts. They lost to Hamilton so we are closing the gap on them.
“There are enough games for us to catch them and go beyond them so that’s our next aim.
“I thought they had won the league earlier in the season, the amount of messages I was getting from their fans, so it’s quite surprising that we are only two points behind them.
“That’s interesting isn’t it? You can’t really get too excited until all the games are gone or you are mathematically too far ahead of another team.
“Maybe that shows the mindset of some people to think ‘we’ve had a good start, they haven’t, so we’re miles ahead of them’. Now, we’re two points behind. We’ll see what happens but that is our next aim – to go ahead of them.
“When we do finish above them, I’m sure the gaffer will get a pat on the back and maybe a pint.”
Referring to the banner which the Hibs fans gleefully unfurled following the victory over the Gorgie outfit a year ago in response to Hearts boss Craig Leven’s jibe, Bartley added: “They’ll be getting it out of the garage or out of the loft. Hopefully we get to see that again soon.”
Bartley has not been shy in winding up Hearts fans in the past but admits he relishes engaging in good natured bantered on social media.
He added: “I enjoy it, it’s good. It’s better when we win, but I accept it when we lose.
“I get a lot of stick, it’s fine. It’s all part of the game.
“To be fair, 99 per cent of their fans don’t overstep the mark. It’s all in good spirits. But yes, we’re heading for them next.”