The Jambos have had a tough start, facing Celtic, Hibs and Aberdeen – three of last season’s top four – as well as trips to St Mirren and Dundee United. However, with two wins on the road, a win over Celtic and draws against the Dons and their capital rivals, Neilson takes pride from his team sitting in third place, one point off top spot in the league.
"When you look at when we came up, you never really know where you are going to be,” said Neilson in the wake of Hearts’ 0-0 draw with Hibs. “You can talk about,' we're Hearts and we are going to do this and that', but until you get into the top flight with the rest of the teams, the players have to believe.
"I felt, with the players we have put together, we would be at the top end, but they have to believe that as well. And one of the things about against Hibs, there's disappointment in the dressing-room, which is a great sign. I've been at clubs before when they get a draw and they come in and it's like they've won the World Cup, whereas here it's disappointment. That shows me that the players believe they should be at the top end.”
Hibs boss Jack Ross is pleased with the shape Hibs are in as well, with the Easter Road club ahead of Hearts on goal difference.
"I think now we are 43 league games consecutive we have never been out of the top four,” said Ross. “So all of last season, for 38 games, we never came out of that top four.
“We have now started the season and it’s very early and I accept that. But you don’t do that unless you are a team food enough to challenge.
“I think anybody watching the game around the league will see two teams difficult to beat.”