The rest of the Championship will not be heartened to hear it but John McGinn believes Hibernian have more to give. With a new manager at the start of the season, he says they took some time getting used to what was expected of them.
Add to that a few injuries to key players – including the Scotland midfielder himself – and he insists they were not operating at their best. But time has been a healer. While niggles will always be part and parcel of the game, and is one reason Neil Lennon still wants to add numbers and options to the squad ahead of the transfer deadline, it is no coincidence that the return to form of players such as Fraser Fyvie and McGinn has helped ease the team further and further away from the chasing pack.
In less than a month, the Leithers have moved from one point ahead to eight, and also emphatically navigated the first tie of their Scottish Cup defence.
“The manager has got different methods to last season. It takes a bit of getting used to and we’ve had a lot of additions to the squad. I think everything is coming into place. We are playing well and creating chances.
“We’re on a good run of form and momentum is key at this stage of the season,” said McGinn, who says he is feeling like a 22-year-old again rather than a 32-year-old following his swift and successful comeback from ankle surgery.
“There’s certainly more to come. In the final third we have a lot of the ball and we can score more goals. I think Jason [Cummings] and Holty [Grant Holt] have still to hit their peak. Then there’s Martin [Boyle] and Brian [Graham] too, so there’s more to come.”
“But we’ll take any thoughts about the league being over with a pinch of salt. It will obviously get discussed but we know Dundee United are a good side, as are Morton. We will focus on ourselves and if we get 14 more wins, we’ll be champions and that’s what our aim is.”
While nearest challengers Dundee United were dropping points on Saturday, the Easter Road side were showing composure and belief to bide their time, dominate play and eventually find the breakthrough against a Queens side who had not simply offered themselves up as sacrificial lambs.
Having set the side up to snuff out the threat of the Dumfries team through the middle of the park, Hibs had also done their homework on set-pieces and, while their efforts from open play were foiled by their determined hosts, with clear-cut chances limited for both sides, all it took was a lapse in concentration by Gary Naysmith’s men and a perfectly executed corner kick in the 52nd minute to decide the game. James Keatings delivered and, arriving from deep, McGinn caught Queens napping. His first-time shot was rifled through a mass of bodies and deflected past Lee Robinson in the home goal.
“We work hard on set-pieces,” explained the goalscorer, adding that this one was a relatively new appendage. “It was a great ball from James Keatings.
“I think they read it, but it was too late. It was such a great ball that all I had to do was get my body over it and it took a wee nick on the way in.”