CHRIS CADDEN knows what it is like to win a run-in race against Aberdeen. But, since his sole memory is of the celebratory bus journey home, he confesses he has few lessons that will prove useful to Hibernian in the coming weeks.
Cadden, still only 17, had just broken into the Motherwell side when they pipped Aberdeen by just two points to finish second in the Premiership with a final-day victory at Pittodrie in 2014.
Fast forward seven years and the Dons are again the challengers as Hibs attempt to stay in third place and qualify for Europe.
“That was a great year for me,” he said. “I was on the bench the day we secured second up at Aberdeen. That was an unbelievable experience and that team was great as well.
“I haven’t really thought about whether I can bring anything here from that experience but I’ll do anything I can to help the team get as high as possible.
“If I’m being honest, I just remember the bus home from Aberdeen being unbelievable! That’s all I can really remember – well, the first half of it anyway!
“We were really good and hard to beat. That was our plan and we went up and won 1-0 with the last kick of the ball or something [a 90th-minute winner from Craig Reid].”
Victory over Betfred Cup champions St Johnstone on Saturday afternoon would go a long way to helping Hibs stay tucked in behind Rangers and Celtic at the top of the table.
Having slipped up twice in cup semi-finals this season, however, Cadden is fully aware getting themselves over the finishing line is likely to be as much about what the Easter Road side have between their ears as in their feet.
“I’ve always said that the mental aspect is so important in football, especially as you’re challenging higher up,” he added.
“The higher you get, the more mentally challenging it is. You can have all the football in the world but if you’ve not got it up there, mentally, it’s going to be difficult.
“So, mentality is so important and that’s something the gaffer tries to instal in us. There’s a really good group here who have that, I feel. That’s something I noticed when I came in here, players wanting to win, wanting to get as high up [the table] as possible.”
Hibs would have been forgiven for watching Saints lift the cup last Sunday with a sense of what might have been.
Streets ahead early on in January’s semi-final at Hampden, they suffered an astonishing collapse to lose 3-0. Revenge will not be uppermost in their minds in Perth, however, insists Cadden.
“It was difficult watching the Betfred Cup Final last week,” said the twice-capped 24-year-old, who admits he is eyeing a Scotland recall after impressing since joining Hibs in January.
“It was an opportunity lost for us and it still hurts. It was hard to get over, but we don’t need any extra motivation.
“We are where we are in the league and this is a big opportunity for us. We know that and the gaffer knows that. He is telling us all of the time.
“Whether it is St Johnstone, Motherwell, Hamilton, we know what is at stake and will be trying to do what we can.”