Talking point: Are Hibs ready to mount a title challenge?

A quick look at the Ladbrokes Premiership table should provoke a mixture of amusement, bafflement and excitement.

Hibs have moved to within two points of the league summit. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker

After obliterating a hapless Hamilton side with a 6-0 victory - which actually flattered the visitors more than it did the hosts - Hibs are tucked nicely behind Hearts at the top of the table. Two points separate the Capital rivals with the Gorgie side travelling to Ibrox on Sunday to face Rangers.

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Hibs are six points ahead of Rangers, who sit seventh, and also look down on Aberdeen and Celtic, plus Livingston and Kilmarnock who, bizarrely, sit fourth and third respectively.

We may only be eight rounds into the Premiership season but it is bonkers already. The once insurmountable Celtic look fragile, struggling to find the back of the net, while Old Firm rivals Rangers are still very much a work in progress.

It has breathed life into the Premiership, opening a gap for an outsider to rise. And few are better placed to take advantage than Hibs.

Neil Lennon is may be right to try and temper too much talk of a title challenge by noting that the team have yet to play Celtic, Hearts or Rangers.

However, to quote Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “Fans want their emotions to come to the surface. And how do they do that? Watching their team win, watching their team transmit emotion: intensity, attacking, scoring goals, competing, fighting. That’s what awakens them.”

There is no chance any Hibs fan is needing woken up at this point. Fans want to believe and, most importantly, dream. And that’s what most should be doing.

Hibs may have not played Celtic, Hearts and Rangers but they are going to do so at the best possible time.

Firstly, only now is Lennon getting to work with his full squad. The fluidity which has been in place under the Northern Irishman is returning as players integrate and regain fitness. Opponents need to be worried as this Hibs side have greater levels to reach, and are capable of giving out similar hidings.

The midfield trio of Mark Milligan, Emerson Hyndman and Stevie Mallan are beginning to click. There is a real balance with Milligan providing some much needed presence and know-how at the base. Someone who can transmit a calming aura around the team.

Hyndman was so slick against Hamilton as he begins to go up through the gears, and what’s left to say about Mallan? He’s more dangerous outside the box than many strikers are inside it.

Then there is Efe Ambrose, more at home in the centre of a four-man defence, and David Gray, rolling back the years to the point he seems like a new signing.

Secondly. Hibs play Celtic ahead of a crucial Europa League qualifier for the champions while the first Edinburgh derby is sandwiched between two matches against Celtic for Hearts.

Lennon’s men have dropped points in three games this season. A 1-1 draw with Aberdeen saw the Easter Road side dominate and a defeat at Livingston is not nearly as bad a result as it was when it occurred. Recent results have shown there are a number of teams capable of taking points from the Old Firm. Hibs should take strength from that.

So, can Hibs win the league? The simple answer is yes.