“When you go into a derby you can’t say, ‘they need to win it more than us’. Everybody needs to win a derby, it doesn’t matter if you’re bottom of the league or top of the league,” said Hearts manager Robbie Neilson.
“We’ve got at least four derbies a season and you want to win all four of them.
“We haven’t won one yet but we’ve now got two back to back and, for us, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, we have to go and beat them.”
Neilson’s Gorgie side are on course for a third-placed finish in the Premiership and all that imbues. But, matters remain far less predictable on the other side of the city as Hibs, who could yet qualify for Europe in fourth place, first have to secure a top six slot this weekend.
Win and they are guaranteed a place in the top half of the league when it splits, anything else leaves them relying on others.
Given that Hibs traveled to Tynecastle not so long ago for a match they dubbed a relegation party, hellbent but failing to hammer the final nail in their rivals coffin as they fought for top-flight survival, Hearts would be forgiven for taking some incentive from the possibility they now have of subjecting them to a season run-in stuck in the bottom six.
But, Neilson claims that is not what drives his squad.
“No, to be honest with you. You just want to win the game, it doesn’t matter what happens with them. What will be will be. It’s about us.
“We’re still challenging to try to secure that third place and we need to try to get it.”
But Hearts were never going to be in any mood to gift them victory. Not in this Saturday’s league meeting and not in next week’s Scottish Cup semi-final either.
“It’s two big games but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. We’ve got to take care of this derby,” said the Hearts gaffer, who has more experience of this particular derby than his Hibs counterpart Shaun Maloney, as a player and a manager. He is therefore unable and unwilling to underplay the significance of any meeting.
“When you play against Hibs you’ve got to win the game. Whether it’s home or way or a neutral venue, it doesn’t matter.
“So, the first port of call for us is this weekend and making sure we’re ready for that.
“The main thing for both coaching staffs is, firstly, trying to get a result but, secondly, make sure you get through it without any injuries.
“Both squads are pretty thin at the moment so, for us, it’s most important to get a result, and then see where we are on Sunday morning.
“We’ve got Gary [Mackay-Steven] back and we’ve got Atkinson back in as well.
“We’ve got Michael Smith back running and Cammy Devlin back running. For both of them this will come too soon. But we’ll maybe have Cammy for the semi-final.”
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