Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes reckons Ian Cathro is already starting to put his stamp on Hearts.
The rookie Jambos boss has proved to be a controversial appointment by Tynecastle owner Ann Budge given his lack of playing career.
The former Valencia and Newcastle coach’s critics were then given extra ammunition when he failed to win any of his first three games in charge.
But he finally got his maiden triumph under his belt with Tuesday’s 4-0 romp over Kilmarnock and now McInnes reckons his style is starting to filter through.
The Dons boss - whose side travel to Gorgie on Friday night looking to extend their three-point lead over Hearts in fourth - said: “I’ve never met Ian. It might seem an unusual appointment but nobody can say with any certainty how it will pan out when a new manager comes in.
“I think he deserves the opportunity to take the job on.
“Looking at his team, you can see there are already little subtle changes and he has put his stamp on them.
“There is always a healthy respect between managers in our league and I obviously wish Ian well.
“Whenever we play Hearts there is always a lot of edge to the game. They made it quite clear last season they saw us as someone they wanted to climb above.
“We were happy to take that challenge on and I think it’s been the same this season.”
The Tynecastle clash is both sides’ last match before the winter break and McInnes is looking forward to resting up some of his tired players.
“The winter break is not really a winter break,” he said. “The players will be given a week off - it’s some time to spend with their families and some time to switch off mentally. The physical part of it will be important for a few of them too.
“A few need it more than others but it’s an opportunity to do it. For the last three seasons we’ve had early starts with the Europa League and we’ve not had the normal summer break that other teams have had.
“So I think any opportunity to give a few days break to certain players is always welcome.”
But while his players are putting their feet up, the Pittodrie manager admits he will be putting the hours in trying to reshape his squad.
However, McInnes admits he will only add to his squad if he can free up room.
“It’s not really a break, because in January I’m still having to work,” he joked.
“It’s a natural chain of events that when players here aren’t playing regularly might be of interest to other clubs - and likewise with ourselves, we’ll look to get one or two things done ourselves.
“But I’m really happy with the squad I’ve got. It’s a tight squad but as we sit at the minute we have a fully fit squad to chose from, which is testament to the way the squad works and the medical staff we have.
“All being well, we have a squad already which should see us through to the end of the season.
“But the January window is an opportunity to see what’s out there and if we feel there is a player out there who can help our cause we will maybe look to do something.
“That though will be offset by one or two players looking to get regular football elsewhere.”