At Hearts’ recent agm, manager Craig Levein was asked when the team would stop allowing Hibs to bully them in derby matches.
His response suggested that was something he wanted addressed too. But while the indication is that the Tynecastle side will put up more of a fight when the teams meet in Gorgie on Wednesday, Levein’s Easter Road counterpart insists his men will not be pulling their punches.
“You expect derbies to be physical and the raw atmosphere brings that out in players. It’s an important facet of the game, to put a marker down,” said Neil Lennon.
“I expect it to be physical. The players like the big games and that’s the beauty of getting promoted after three years in the Championship, they’re playing them week in, week out.”
Despite their lowlier league standing in recent years, Hibernian are still the side who have enjoyed the bragging rights, with an eight-game unbeaten run in the fixture, with four of those wins. Maintaining that head-to-head superiority is a priority, although manager Lennon insists that claiming the points on offer is the main incentive for him.
“[Derby dominance] doesn’t mean a whole lot to me personally – we’re unbeaten in the three I’ve been involved in – but it means a lot more to the supporters and players.
“So if we can it’s important to maintain it. Like every run it ends, but we don’t want it to end too soon. We also have a target of trying to get into the top six, to finish an outstanding 2017 well. We don’t want it to peter out. We’ve played well but not got what we’ve deserved at times.
“We’ll watch the Celtic game again, it’ll have given them a boost, but it might just be one of those games where everything came together – we’ve all had those.”