While other sides were left licking their wounds on a day of Scottish Cup surprises, this was as comfortable an afternoon as Hibs could have hoped for.
A stress free result that takes them into the draw for the next round, they could be pleased with four goals, and a decent outing for debutant Ryan Gauld but it could have and should have been even more.
An opener from Florian Kamberi, a goal in each half from Daryl Horgan, and a Stevie Mallan penalty gave an indication of how one-sided the match was but Elgin will head back up the road relieved that the scoreline wasn’t even more emphatic.
The inclusion of Gauld in the starting line-up gave the side more movement and more options going forward and combined with full-back forays down the flank and decent wing play from Horgan and a more composed performance from the Swiss striker up front that should have been more telling against the League Two side.
But while a poor Kamberi penalty, saved by Elgin City keeper Thomas McHale, in the 32nd minute offered the Highland side some respite, it was only a momentary reprieve.
Hibs were already 2-0 up by then and totally in control. With latest signing Stephane Omeonga watching in the stand and fellow newcomer Tommy Block amongst the substitutes, it was loanee Gauld who was given a place in the starting line up and demonstrated just how big an asset he could prove between now and the end of the season with his movement and desire to get on the ball. Generating space, playing one twos, picking out passes, and generally making himself available, he added to the teams fluidity and gave the side greater creativity and more attacking options.
Involved in the first goal, he latched on to a Darren McGregor ball forward and played the pass through for Kamberi, who rounded the Elgin keeper and slotted home from a tight angle.
“You could see with Ryan that he’s a clever player, he can see a pass and that’s what we’ve been missing,” said Hibs assistant manager Garry Parker. “You can see he’s going to make a difference for us. His pass through for the Kamberi goal was excellent and he finished it well.”
But the Swiss striker wasn’t the only one peppering McHale’s goal. Steven Whittaker, Vykintas Slivka, McGregor and Gauld had headers, Horgan forced a fine save from the visiting keeper, while Mallan then had a dig from the edge of the box.
But the second goal followed just four minutes behind the first as Slivka’s delivery saw Horgan burst through one on one with the keeper and, leaping bravely, he beat McHale to the ball and headed into the net and wasd clattered in the process.
At that stage it looked like the score could be anything as Hibs swarmed forward and the lower league guests struggled to carve out any real chance of note.
They did get a boost when McHale was able to save a poor penalty from Kamberi after Whittaker was taken out by Rabin Omar in the 32nd minute but Hibs made it three before the break when Mallan showed Kamberi how a penalty should be taken and drilled his spotkick into the bottom corner.
Elgin had a great chance to pull one back but Omar screwed his effort wide and when Hibs fourth goal followed minutes later, when Horgan burst a gut to get on the end of Whittaker’s 53rd minute cross, it was simply a case of keeping things respectable.
“I said to the players after the game that the biggest thing for me is that they stuck together,” said the Borough Briggs manager Gavin Price. “We were always going to be up against it playing against a team three leagues above you, full-time - a good team. The fourth goal went in fairly early in the second half and you start to fear. It can damage your confidence if you come out with a hiding but I was please the way we finished the game.”
Hibs had countless more chances to add to their tally but even substitutes Oli Shaw and Fraser Murray couldn’t make the opportunities count, with one stabbing an effort wide and the other finding the side netting as Elgin kept them at bay. But, other than an injury to keeper Adam Bogdan, who was replaced by Ofir Marciano in the final 10 minutes, Hibs simply eased their way through the remainder of the game and into the next round.