Gary Mackay: Hearts have set stage for a successful season

Hearts have now laid the foundations for a successful season.

When you get a result and performance as impressive as Saturday’s so early on, it can set the tone for the entire campaign. Footballers, ultimately, are driven by confidence and belief and you won’t get any more confidence and belief than from beating the double treble winners in such impressive fashion.

In each of our past two seasons, we’ve had disappointing starts and then gone on to finish fifth and sixth. The last time we finished third, three seasons ago, we won our first five league games.

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Early-season momentum can be massive, and now that we’ve got it, we’ve got to make sure we build on it. We’ve also found form at a time when three of last season’s top four are competing in Europe, so that could cause them to take their eye off the ball slightly in the league and the Betfred Cup. We must remain fully focused for our trip to Dunfermline on Saturday because we have a really good chance to maintain the feelgood factor by getting into the quarter-final.

Peter Haring challenges Scott Brown

I made no secret a few weeks ago about the fact I was slightly sceptical about the season ahead, but there’s no doubt that the way we finished the Betfred Cup campaign and, particularly, the first two league games have buoyed all Hearts supporters.

I can’t speak highly enough of the performance against Celtic. The fact we restricted them to hardly any shots on target speaks volumes about how controlled we were. I never really felt like any of their players caused us any problems until Tom Rogic came on at a stage when we were tiring.

Over the 90 minutes, nobody could question that we were worthy winners.

The pace and intensity we played with, allied to the control of the game we had for good periods, was really encouraging.As the game wore on and it became a bit more stretched, we seemed to be passing the ball just as well as Celtic.

Although it was a magnificent team performance, it’s hard not to single out Peter Haring, who looks like he’s going to prove a brilliant acquisition. Considering he came in as a centre-back, he’s showing real control and assurance in midfield, as well as being a real goal threat. After a few years of difficulty, it’s an exciting time to be a Hearts supporter again.