Neil Lennon has voiced his admiration for Steven Naismith but has claimed Hibs could not have afforded to sign the Scotland striker.
Naismith, 31, this week joined Hearts on loan from Norwich City for the remainder of the season.
He is line to make his debut for the Tynecastle club in Sunday’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Hibs in Gorgie.
He is one of a number of new faces who have been added to the clubs’ respective squads since the sides met in the league last month.
Hibs’ new goalkeeper Scott Bain will have to be patient, with Ofir Marciano retaining the shirt on Sunday, but new striker Jamie McLaren may feature at some point.
Hearts have managed to pull off a transfer coup in luring Naismith back to Scotland and Lennon is well aware of the hunger and the ability of his rivals’ latest recruit.
The Hibs head coach said: “I’m surprised he’s come back, he’s only 31, but maybe he just wants to play regular football at this stage of his career. He’s good player, a very good player, has been for a long time, so it is a very good signing for Hearts.
“But we are in a position where we can’t afford to do a deal like this. Hearts are in a position to do a deal like that and that is maybe because they are back in the division for their third season now.
“We are building up, building up, but we can’t just throw everything at one player, we are not prepared to do that. I am pretty happy with what we have got, we are in a decent position, and we have got a really juicy cup tie to look forward to.
“If something comes into our wage bracket that we like the look of, and we can manipulate the deal then we will do that, but it is 19/20 January so after the game there is still a lot of things that can happen before the window closes.”