Until now European and the start of the Premiership campaign had been taking precedence but with Hearts finally entering the League Cup fray, striker Conor Sammon claimed Hearts now have another matter to address.
Shocked by the Gorgie club’s lack of success in the competition since 1962, the Irishman said the five-decade drought should be used to inspire the club to better things.
“If someone had put me on the spot and said ‘when do you think the last time Hearts won the League Cup was?’ I would have definitely guessed within the last ten or 15 years,” he said.
“But I was told the stats on Tuesday morning and it really surprised me. With the size of the club, and the quality Hearts have had over the last 30-40 years, that is incredible. That is something we can use as additional motivation – to be the group of players that lifts the trophy and changes a stat like that. We can use that to our advantage.”
But rather than risk being dazzled by the lustre of the silverware, he said each stage of the journey towards success has to be carefully negotiated, starting with tonight’s trip to McDiarmid Park.
“You can’t get too far ahead of yourself in any cup competition – St Johnstone are a consistent top six team and have done really well,” he added.
With Perry Kitchen back in the reckoning, along with Alim Ozturk and new signing Krystian Nowak, manager Robbie Neilson has selection options, but Sammon and Tony Watt are still likely to be given the chance to build on their strike partnership ahead of the arrival of Bjorn Johnsen, who could gain international clearance in time to feature against Aberdeen on Saturday.
“I think the style of player the two of us are we can really complement each other,” said the Irishman. “Tony is a clever footballer who looks to drop into the hole and almost play in between midfield and attack. He has got a very good touch, he is skilful, he can score goals and I know he can create chances for me. It suits me as well because I want to play on the last man and if the two of us can get more games in then we can really gel.
“Obviously, as a group of players we want to be successful in every competition that we play in. The League Cup is no different. It’s a great opportunity for us to go on a good run. Momentum is a big thing and on the back of Sunday’s defeat we want to get into a habit of winning games, whether it’s getting three points or getting through to the next round of the cup.”
Sammon had left for a new adventure in English football by the time Kilmarnock defeated Celtic to win the cup in 2012 but still came back to watch that victory at Hampden.
“I am fully aware of how big a competition it is and how great a day out that was as a spectator. From my point of view I would love to be part of Hearts going to Hampden to try to change that stat.”