Veteran Hearts defender Aaron Hughes insists the pain of the timid derby defeat to Hibs will always linger – regardless of how the team bounces back.
The Northern Ireland cap was part of the side that fell to a submissive 3-1 loss in Wednesday’s Scottish Cup fifth round replay at Easter Road.
The 37-year-old former Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Fulham centre-half has suffered his fair share of derby disappointments but concedes that the hurt never leaves you.
Hearts hope victory at Patrick Thistle today can help them regain some of fans’ trust but Hughes insists even a win over the Jags will not make up for the the manner of that sorry set-back to their fierce city rivals.
He said: “It was a tough one to take no matter what stage you’re at in your career. Derby games have that extra that makes it that bit harder to take.
“You remember those feelings, no matter how much or quickly you get over it, you still remember what it felt like. You can use that emotion to drive you to be better next time.
“Lets say we go out and win the game and get three points on Saturday, that still won’t make Wednesday’s defeat any easier to take.
“It will start the process of getting better and we’re back on track but there’s still that feeling of what could have been the other night. I guess in time that starts to disappear a little bit.
“Football moves on quickly anyway and one minute you’re up and one minute you’re down. That’s how it is, it still lingers.”
Hughes was one of eight January recruits that featured in the defeat to Hibs but the 104-times capped defender has dismissed suggestions that the newcomers did not appreciate the enormity of the derby showdown.
He added: “There’s enough experience in our squad and the lads have played in enough derbies in their careers regardless of who it’s for.
“When you play a derby you appreciate what it means to the fans. A derby game is different to a normal game, as a professional you still have to try and prepare in the same way.
“But you’re aware of that little extra edge to it, you know it’s got bragging rights and what it means to the fans. I don’t think that was a factor, everyone was aware of what it meant.
“That’s probably why it’s hurt us a bit more too and why we’re so disappointed with the way things went.”