HIBS boss John Hughes today revealed just how seriously he's taking the threat of Irvine Meadow by dispatching a spy to the Ayrshire club's Scottish Junior Cup clash in Aberdeen.
Hughes promised he wouldn't be treating the Meadow Park outfit any differently to an SPL club after watching Hibs draw the West Region Super Premier League champions in the fourth round of the Active Nation Scottish Cup.
Although the Easter Road side will obviously be overwhelming favourites to record a convincing victory when the sides meet in Edinburgh on 9 January, Hughes is determined to leave no stone unturned to ensure his players don't slip on what he described as "a really big banana skin".
However, a break for the festive period will limit Hughes' opportunities to build up a dossier on Meadow but he will take advantage of both today's match against Hillhead and next weekend's League game away to Lanark United to do so.
He said: "Our preparations will be as meticulous as for any match we play. Part of my preparation and team talk every Thursday or Friday is to go through the opposition, telling my players the strengths and weaknesses of the guy they'll be up against.
"It will be exactly the same for Meadow. We will have someone in Aberdeen today and again at Lanark and by the time we play them I will know everything I feel I need to know about them."
Hughes preparations will include getting in touch with Jim Weir, manager of Arbroath who were shocked to be beaten 1-0 by the Junior side in the previous round and probably Musselburgh Athletic coach David McGlynn after his team lost 3-0 to the Ayrshire outfit in the last round of the Scottish Junior Cup.
And, while some have opposed the right of Junior and Senior clubs to compete in the Scottish Cup, Hughes, who started his career with Newtongrange Star, has no such qualms. He said: "To my mind it adds to the romance of the Cup. Everyone is talking about Meadow coming to Easter Road and that's what the Scottish Cup is all about.
"I remember playing for Celtic against Whitehill Welfare in the Scottish Cup at Easter Road and although we eventually ran out 3-0 winners it was a terrific football match.
"Having played Junior football I have the greatest of respects for the game at that level.
"I have fond memories of my time at Newtongrange. I played against a few Ayrshire teams and I'm delighted for Meadow, they've battled through and earned this tie.
"I'm sure Irvine will be deserted on the day, everyone will be coming to Easter Road. All these games have the potential of being a banana skin if you are not on top of your game and that is why we are going about our business properly."