When the teams emerged from the tunnel at the start of this contest they were met with a banner display in the Famous Five stand that was intended to inspire the home players. Instead it was used as a stick with which Hearts manager Craig Levein was able to beat them with come the final whistle.
“I’m thrilled to bits for the boys because they took things to a really new level today because there is class, there is first class, there is Hibs class and then the one above that is Hearts class. It’s brilliant. I’m so pleased about that,” Levein said, gleefully paraphrasing the famous Eddie Turnbull quote which the home fans had emblazoned on those banners.
And he admitted, that while his men had come out on top, handing the hosts only their second home defeat this year, and securing Hearts’ first derby victory at Easter Road since 2014, it had been a close battle but the winning goal was the stuff of dreams for scorer Olly Lee.
“That was my greatest strike for Hearts,” said the match winner.
“I really enjoyed it and it was a great moment. It’s a goal which has been coming as I was due a goal and it makes it all the more pleasing that it was against Hibs, that’s really special. I was dreaming about it so it was nice for my dream to come true. I always try to think ahead about what’s going to happen and thankfully it happened for me tonight.
“I took a touch and it opened up for me a bit so I always fancy myself when shooting around the box and it’s been a little while since I’ve scored. It was so nice to see the ball hit the back of the net.”
But reality proved even better than his dreams.
“I scored in my dream but it wasn’t quite as good as that. As long as it hits the net I’m happy. For my celebration, I was trying to get to the fans and it would have been nice if I had scored at the other end but beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a brilliant night and one I’ll savour forever, one I’ll look back on and treasure for the rest of my life.
“It’s brilliant to hear the fans singing my name, I loved every minute of it and the fans have been excellent with me since I arrived here from down south. I really do appreciate it. We have had a rough time recently so that was brilliant for the fans.
“It’s results like this which makes it all feel worth it.”
It was a frustrating night for Hibs head coach, Neil Lennon. “I think we’re unlucky,” he said. “It just didn’t go for us tonight. They scored a great goal, it was a great strike, and then we bombarded them in the second-half.
“I’m not unhappy with the way we played. We just lacked quality at times in the final third, which has been a problem over the first half of the season. We lacked creativity.
“Our final ball could be better. It will be something we will look at in January. But I’m not unhappy with the intensity and quality of play. It was good in the first two thirds of the pitch, we dominated the game for periods which we haven’t done against Hearts for a long time.
“But we are not doing the most important thing in the game which is scoring goals.”
He had thought his men would claim at least a point but Steven Whittaker’s 80th-minute strike rattled the post and crawled along the goal line.
“So it was the width of some greasepaint, really. I did think a goal was coming. When Steven hits the post you think ‘that’s in’ and when it doesn’t you think ‘bloody hell…it might not be our night after all’. We need that bit of craft. We were putting the ball in with hope rather than expectation.”