SUCH was the malaise when Hibernian last visited Rugby Park, Daryl Horgan found himself hoping the floodlights would fail for a third time on a bizarre evening.
As the capital club return to Ayrshire on Saturday, the future looks altogether more bright.
Horgan, whose sensational form has illuminated the first three months of Paul Heckingbottom’s reign at Easter Road, still vividly recalls the Hibees’ 3-0 reverse at Killie back on December 1.
However, it is not the defeat which lives long in the memory. The encounter was interrupted by two separate incidences of floodlight failure which put the game in serious doubt. Unfortunately for the visitors, the issue was rectified.
“You’re 2-0 down with ten minutes to go, would you take a replay? Yeah, of course,” laughed Horgan.
“It gets to stage where you’re hoping and wondering if the game might be called off.”
The result represented a sixth match without a victory for Hibs. That sequence would extend to three wins in 15 before Neil Lennon ultimately left the club in January.
“It was a bad one that night,” Horgan continued. “We were beaten 3-0 – and we were beaten comprehensively.
“To be fair, there were a few bad games during that run, but that was right up there. The run we went on around November and December really hampered us.
“When the lights went off for the first time we were actually building a little momentum and getting into the game. It looked like we might get something.
“When the game restarts, you’re trying to build up the momentum and then it gets cut again! So it wasn’t ideal. We didn’t deserve anything from the game but that didn’t help.”
Hibs remain resolved to secure fifth place in the Premiership, claiming bragging rights over city rivals Hearts and the additional £125,000 compared to sixth spot in the process. However, their aims will be loftier next term.
Given Hibs’ fine form since the Englishman arrived – just one league defeat in 11 – they will undoubtedly be eyeing the ‘best of the rest’ berth currently occupied by Steve Clarke’s men.
However, Horgan is adamant they do not need to follow the Rugby Park playbook for success.
“We don’t really have to look at Kilmarnock and say: ‘They’ve done brilliantly, we need to do that’,” continued the Ireland international. “We need to do it our own way and try to get to that level with the way we play.
“Kilmarnock have had a fantastic season, Steve Clarke rightly got manager of the year. He’s brought in a good team, they have style and are hard to play against. They are rightly up there and the league table doesn’t lie.
“We want to get right up there next season. You want to challenge everyone and get as high up the table as you possibly can. That’ll be the aim.”
Ahead of the final two games of a tumultuous campaign, Horgan is ebullient when he considers the potential of Heckingbottom’s Hibs following a whole pre-season of preparation.
He added: “There have definitely been ups and downs this season but the last three months have been unbelievable. We’ve been playing great stuff and winning games, which is the priority.
“Everyone has bought straight into the work the gaffer and Robbie [Stockdale] have done.
“We have a good system, a good way of playing, everyone pressing and playing football along the deck and through the lines. All that has been massive.
“It will be great to have a pre-season where he’ll have more time to work with us.
“Right now we’re still trying to build into games and build into whatever opposition we have. So when you have that month-and-a-half to work on yourself and how you want to play, that could be fantastic.”