How did Hearts manage to turn in such an inept performance through the first 60 minutes of their biggest game of the season? Well, according to players on both sides, a lack of homegrown players may be the issue.
Hibs dominated the Scottish Cup fifth-round replay from the very start. They led on 20 minutes when Jason Cummings fired them in front, extended the advantage through Grant Holt, and assured their passage to the quarter-finals when Andrew Shinnie netted in the second half.
While this rout was going on, Hearts looked completely shell-shocked. They had no answer for Hibs, both with and without the football. Esmael Goncalves would pull one back but they never seriously looked like getting back into the game.
In the away starting XI there were only four players who’d been at the club prior to the January transfer window, and only two of those (Jamie Walker and Arnaud Djoum) had played at Easter Road before.
It would seem this was the root of Hearts’ problems. All but Walker and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton were from outwith Scotland, while most of the new additions have only been signed to short-term deals.
When it came down to it, there was only one team who looked willing to fight for every ball, and they were the side who deservedly came out on top.
“Everything went wrong. We were outfought, outplayed. It’s hard to say but, you know, it’s the truth,” said Walker, who took over the Hearts’ captain’s armband after Perry Kitchen was substituted at half-time.
“Maybe they [Hibs] have got more boys who know what it means, like myself. Maybe some of the new boys were just expecting to pot the ball around and, as you know, in a derby you can’t do that. You need to win your individual battles and I think we failed in all aspects of that.
“It’s Disappointing. For a football club like Hearts that wasn’t good enough. We need to apologise to the fans. We’ve let everyone down at the club.
“We’ve got a lot of making up to do for the fans.”
The attacker’s sentiments were echoed by Cummings. The Hibs goalscorer has now won and lost his fair share of Edinburgh derbies in his young career, and having grown up watching the fixture, he too felt the visitors were missing players who really understood what the game meant.
“I just feel like we wanted it more,” said Cummings. “I just think - maybe a bit controversial - that it’s not a Hearts team that knows much about the Edinburgh derby.
“We have players that know what it means to play in these games and for the fans. I look at their team-sheet and I don’t think they know what it means compared to us.”