Hibs return to Cappielow this afternoon to face Morton on league business for the first time since 1998, and in the opposite dugout to Easter Road manager Alan Stubbs will be Jim Duffy, who began that year in charge of the Edinburgh club.
It was Alex McLeish who was at the helm for that 3-1 December win in Greenock, with Duffy’s tenure having ended some ten months earlier. But the 56-year-old was in reflective mood yesterday as he prepared his side to meet the title chasers.
Leaving Hibs was not the best of experiences... And it feels a long time agoJim Duffy
Duffy said: “It is 19 years this month since I was appointed as manager of Hibs. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. I have never been one to harp on about the good old days or the bad old days, I just put things down to life experience.
“I was 36 when I went to Hibs and it feels a long time ago. It is a lifetime in football terms.”
Duffy added: “I have been on a journey since then, Hibs have been on a journey since then and Scottish football has been on a journey since then.
“If you consider Hibs were facing a Celtic side with the likes of Henrik Larsson and Craig Burley and a Rangers team that had Brian Laudrup and Jorg Albertz it shows you how the landscape has changed.
“Leaving Hibs was not the best of experiences but it was still an experience that I can call on.”
Morton are getting the benefit of Duffy’s experience at the moment, with four wins and a draw in their last five Ladbrokes Championship games, taking the League 1 champions into an unexpected fourth place.
Duffy said: “Our opening fixtures were Falkirk, Hibs and then St Mirren and we knew that would be a test. We came out of it with two draws and a 1-0 defeat at Easter Road and that gave us confidence just when we were settling into this league.
“We are doing alright in terms of results, however there have been some games where we could have played better. We have dug in in a lot of games to get results and last weekend in the Scottish Cup we had to dig deep against a good Albion Rovers side in absolutely atrocious conditions.
“It was not free flowing but we got the job done.”
As for today’s clash with Stubbs’ high flyers, Duffy said: “They are a good side who are on a great unbeaten run that has included beating Rangers and a comprehensive win over Dundee United to reach the League Cup semi-finals.
“They have quality in their ranks and will be backed by a big support that will create a great atmosphere at Cappielow.
“Hibs have undoubtedly improved since our game in August and so have we. This will be a test of our improvement.”