Hibernian’s agonising failure to secure their best top-flight finish in 43 years last season weighed heavily on manager Neil Lennon who briefly considered his future at Easter Road.
He then lost the services of John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch in the summer, with on-loan Scott Allan returning to Celtic, prompting supporters to wonder what the prospects would be in the new campaign without such a talented midfield trio.
As far as Efe Ambrose, pictured, is concerned, Hibs are an even better force this season, even if they rode their luck in Paisley on Saturday.
It is easy to concur. The recruitment of Stevie Mallan and Mark Milligan has proved to be astute, with Emerson Hyndman’s arrival on loan also representing very good business.
It has also helped that Ambrose is in a terrific run of form, undoubtedly contributing to the achievement of three consecutive clean sheets. Ambrose said: “We’re trying to be better than last season. We have lost some good players and we have brought new ones in and that has meant that we have changed the style and the tactics so it has not been easy. We are trying to adapt but I think we have good depth and players that can change a game.
“So for us I think right now we are at the top of our game and we just need to keep it going. We all have our ups and downs. You can have good times or bad times and I’m having a good time at the moment. Every time I go on the pitch I try to do my best so I never change.”
St Mirren manager Oran Kearney claimed that Hibs’ winner – David Gray’s 14th minute header from Mallan’s corner – should not have counted as Flo Kamberi was illegally blocking Paul McGinn and Lee Hodson.
TV evidence does not appear to validate this assertion and Ambrose says the move was the perfect execution of a routine that was practised in training.
Ambrose said: “It was a great goal and something we have been working on at the training ground. We feel we are strong at set pieces and that’s because of all of the work we do in training.
“We have these plans for set pieces and we also have players who can score with a free kick. We have been deadly in these situations. St Mirren away is not an easy game as Celtic found out recently when they were held 0-0. We deserved to get our goal but maybe both sides deserved something in the second half.
“We had a lot of defending to do in the last 15 minutes but the gaffer had told us that if we kept a clean sheet we would win the game.”
Incredibly, St Mirren have netted just once in seven matches and that was an own goal at Tynecastle but new signing Simeon Jackson hopes to solve this issue.
Jackson said: “Scoring goals is what it’s all about, so we’ve got to keep creating the chances and they will come.”