“I don’t look too much into [their tactics], it is more our manager than us, but you do notice when you play them that they have changed a bit. Last year when we played them the games were pretty dull.
“It is probably going to take a while for the team to adjust to the new manager and his style,” said the PFA Scotland Player of the Year nominee.
“He obviously knows the game well and wants Hearts to play a good brand of football, a nice brand of football. To be fair it is a bit refreshing to see a manager come in and kind of completely change the team’s philosophy, to play the right brand of football and it will just take time for his ideas to settle in. But I am sure he will have them fired up on Sunday to try and take all three points.”
The final game in front of century-old main stand, there will be a feeling of pomp and nostalgia as Hearts attempt to right recent wrongs with a winning farewell to the old lady. It is something Aberdeen will be wary of but, as the ground usually plays a major role in any visit to Tynecastle, Hayes says the occasion will be no more daunting than usual.
“To be fair I think the atmosphere always comes from the crowd. We always sell out our allocation and it is the two sets of fans who make the crazy atmosphere rather than the football on the pitch. It is just an enjoyable place to go.
“I played in the League Cup semi-final there a couple of years ago [in 2014 v St Johnstone] and thoroughly enjoyed the game and from a football point of view you probably don’t get many better atmospheres than a full Tynecastle. It will be our last time there before the summer.”
Earlier this season, it looked like Hearts would be putting in a challenge for second place, but a mid-season reshuffle of manager and playing personnel has undermined that with Aberdeen surging well ahead as Hearts slipped down the standings. Unbeaten against the Tynecastle team this term, that has little import according to Hayes, who insists that recent results do not make the visit any less intimidating. He added: “That is probably down to a number of different things, they had a new manager taking over after the season had started and it takes a while to put his points across. I am sure he will be looking forward to next season, his first full season, because he will have his own design for the football club.
“But Hearts away is still a tough fixture, if you ask anyone in Scotland when Hearts play well and Tynecastle is rocking it is a very tough place to go.”
But Aberdeen have targets to meet. They face Celtic in the league on Friday and want to see out the season in second place. They also want to build some momentum ahead of the Scottish Cup final, which despite their best efforts, represents their last opportunity to end the season with a tangible reward.
“We know Celtic have won the league but it is first against second as it has been a few times over the last couple of seasons when we have met them and there will be a lot of pride at stake. We will be at home and hopefully we can lay a marker down for the cup final.
“Everyone wants a winner’s medal. [My League Cup runners-up] medal I found in a drawer last night: I didn’t know it was there. They are not really significant unless they are a winner’s medal. When the cup final comes along it is winner takes all so we will give it our all and hopefully come off best.”