Alan Stubbs has warned his Hibs players to expect a far sterner test from Dundee United today than the one they passed with flying colours against the same opponents last November.
Hibs swatted United aside with a comprehensive 3-0 win in the quarter-finals of the League Cup at Easter Road five months ago, a result Stubbs believes should instil confidence in his team ahead of this afternoon’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
But although United remain marooned at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership, the Hibs manager feels they have improved since the sides last met. “It’s a completely different set of circumstances now,” said Stubbs. “That was then. This is now.
“If anything, it will give our players that little bit of comfort that they know they can beat United. But I have got to say I think United are stronger now than they were then. I’m not saying they are a drastically different team. But they are stronger since the time we beat them 3-0.”
United are one of five Premiership scalps Hibs have claimed in cup competitions this season, with Hearts, Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle also beaten by the Championship promotion hopefuls.
Despite losing two late goals in the 2-2 draw at home to Falkirk on Tuesday night, extending a poor run of form in which Hibs have won just two of their last 11 games in all competitions, Stubbs insists he sees signs of his team getting back to their best.
“I saw a response on Tuesday,” he said. “That was night and day compared with the defeat at Alloa last Saturday.
“We were back to the levels of form we were showing earlier in the season. We looked hungry. We were jumping into tackles. We looked a threat going forward. It was a really good sign for me.
“We need to respond and I thought Tuesday was a real step in the right direction. We were good for 85 minutes against Falkirk but we need to find that level for 90 minutes in every game.
“If we do, we have seen what we can do once we get to that level. We have seen it against Hearts, Inverness, Aberdeen – all these Premiership teams we can beat. We did okay in those games.”