The former Hibs skipper admitted he had wondered what kind of team Hearts would field against Raith Rovers with the Tynecastle side already confirmed as champions.
Dundee needed Hearts to gain a result at Stark’s Park and they did so in comprehensive fashion, winning 4-0. McPake’s side did what they had to do against Queen of the South after a Jason Cummings double earned three points and a clash with the winners of next week’s Raith Rovers v Dunfermline tie.
“They were outstanding, it was a really professional performance,” said the manager. “I am just delighted to get second place and it gives us a chance to clear a few niggles up.
“We won’t be taking our foot off the gas,” he added. “There’s a massive tie coming up - we will let them boot lumps out of each other in a Fife derby and then pick the bones out of that.”
He thanked Hearts through gritted teeth. “Look we knew we had to beat Raith (last Saturday) and we did that and then come down here and do a job.
“It was irrelevant what happened at Hearts v Raith. As much as it hurts me to say it, Hearts should be at the top end of the Premier League and they have a good crop of players.
“Did it cross my mind what they would do? Yes, it’s only human nature to wonder would they put a weakened team out but again, you have people there fighting for the backing of the fans so to speak.
“I don’t applaud them but what I would say is that the best team over the course of the season has won the league and the second-best team has finished second. The league table never lies.
"[Second place] should have been done earlier I’ll admit that. I’ll take that. There’s been misfortune with injuries, Covid and decisions I have made that were not right.
“We are four games away from joining Hearts and I hope to be playing them next season – that’s the aim now. Well done to them and well done to Raith and Dunfermline for getting in the play-offs.”