It seemed like fate, given Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke’s running feud with officialdom, that another controversial refereeing decision ultimately settled this clash in Hibernian’s favour.
With 12 minutes left and having already dragged themselves back into the match from being two down inside 23 minutes, the visitors were livid when referee John Beaton pointed to the penalty spot after Kirk Broadfoot was adjudged to have felled Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren.
An indignant Broadfoot’s remonstrations fell on deaf ears and his profound sense of injustice was exacerbated when Flo Kamberi buried his spot kick past Jamie MacDonald.
Then, in stoppage time, Broadfoot was himself denied a penalty following a coming together with Efe Ambrose.
“If you watch back then you’ll see that Maclaren actually kicks Kirk on the back of the foot,” said Clarke, who has vowed to fight a Scottish FA charge of bringing the game into disrepute over comments made regarding captain Gary Dicker’s recent unsuccessful red card appeal.
“There was contact in the box on Kirk and I think if it’s a day for soft penalties then it should have been one each.
“We should have got something from the game because we definitely deserved it. I was quietly fuming afterwards because we let a decent situation slip away from us.
“It was a good free kick from Stevie Mallan from another soft free kick award and then conceded from a corner but we responded with two really good team goals.
“But events went against us and we feel really hard done by.”
Lennon disagreed, saying: “Our penalty was a penalty. The defender is on the wrong side of Jamie and he’s come across him and been clever.”
After Hibs came out on top in an eight-goal feast when these side’s last met in Leith back in April, it was no surprise that this encounter was just as compelling.
Three goals inside the opening 26 minutes was not a bad start in trying to live up to the drama that was served up in the home side’s 5-3 win at the tail end of last season.
Hibs drew first blood but they were nearly caught out at a short-corner after seven minutes when Chris Burke curled an effort just wide.
Stevie Mallan notched his seventh of the season and took his set-piece tally to four in the 12th minute.
Martin Boyle was tripped by Aaron Tshibola just outside the area and the former Barnsley playmaker swept a stunning curling shot away from Jamie MacDonald into the top left corner of the net.
Hibs doubled their advantage in the 23rd minute with a move straight from the training ground as the unmarked David Gray bulleted a header from 12 yards past MacDonald from Mallan’s corner.
Kilmarnock’s hopes of dragging themselves back into the game were reinforced three minutes later when Clarke’s side reduced the deficit.
Greg Stewart found Stephen O’Donnell on the byeline and the Scotland right-back’s pass was turned past Adam Bogdan at the front post by Eamonn Brophy.
The travelling fans rose to celebrate and were back on their feet to see their team achieve parity two minutes before the break.
Burke fed Stewart on the edge of the area and the on-loan Birmingham City playmaker slid past Steven Whittaker before slamming a powerful left-footed rising drive past Bogdan from 20 yards.
Kamberi notched the decisive strike at the end to hand Hibs their first Premiership win in four outings.
Lennon, who handed a second half debut to Mark Milligan, added: “It was a great game, a high quality football match and the first four goals were outstanding.
“I am disappointed from our point of view, we were very passive with the two goals.
“We got the break with penalty and it’s a brilliant win for us.
“I was really concerned about the game going into it because Kilmarnock had a great win at Aberdeen, not many teams do that, and they’re a good team.”