Jack Ross has led his side to three straight victories – against Dundee United, St Mirren, and Aberdeen – and sit six points off the Hoops, having played two games more.
Last weekend’s victory over the Dons put daylight between them and the Capital club in third place but Brownlie, who helped Hibs to League Cup and Drybrough Cup success over Celtic in 1972, believes his former employers can and should aim higher.
In an interview with the Daily Record Brownlie warned that his former employers must remain consistent for the rest of the season.
He said: “There is a gap in the market for a strong second-placed club and why shouldn’t Hibs fill it?
"It's been a very long time since Hibs have been even mentioned in dispatches as being capable of finishing second but this season it is a real possibility. The test of their mettle will be when the top six split comes.
"I’ve no doubt Jack Ross will get the club to where he believes it can go but whether he can do it this season is a big question. It will come down to whether they can achieve the consistency which has been missing in parts of this campaign.”
Brownlie enjoyed several European jaunts during his eight-year spell at Hibs, facing the likes of Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, and Liverpool and the East Stirlingshire assistant boss would dearly love to see his old club do what he didn’t manage – and qualify for the Champions League.
"A Champions League place is very much achievable for Hibs but it is all down to whether they can achieve consistency,” he added.
"The raw materials are there, they have the tools to do it, they have a system and identity within their squad which doesn't appear to be the case either at Aberdeen or Celtic.
“On their day they can be a match for anybody but they can’t lose to the likes of Ross County and Livingston and expect to finish second or third."