Date: 10th February 2017 at 9:42am
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Hibs cross the city this Sunday to face their Edinburgh rivals in a much anticipated Scottish Cup tie with major bragging rights at stake alongside a passage to the quarter finals of the famous old competition.

Incredibly it’s the second year in a row the clubs have met at this stage, the fifth time the clubs have been paired together in just 11 years and the first time Hibs have played Hearts as Cup holders.

The Hibees 114 year search for the trophy ended in such dramatic circumstances last May when David Gray secured a last gasp victory over Rangers and it was news which made headlines all over the world and it’s something which rankles with the Hearts support who had the chance to knock their bitter rivals out but contrived to blow a 2-0 lead at Tynecastle before losing the replay 1-0 at Easter Road.

Having blew the opportunity last season it makes Sunday’s clash absolutely massive for those who prefer maroon and having won their last two matches by three goal margins, they’re confident.

Ian Cathro went a little radge during the January transfer window, almost completely overhauling a squad that was sitting second when he took over from Robbie Neilson and despite a sticky start many feel he’s turned the corner with those two victories over Rangers and Motherwell but let there be no doubt, they’ll be worthless in the eyes of the Jambo’s support if they fail to beat Hibs.

Years of living beyond their means under Lithuanian con man Vladimir Romanov have resulted in a generation of Hearts supporters never having seen their club having to deal with minor issues such as budgetary constraints with the generation prior to this seeing Wallace Mercer & Chris Robinson overspend to the tune of £20 million, which doesn’t include a rather generous £8 million gift for a stakeholding from the Scottish Media Group. Mad Vlad’s reign sent expectations soaring but was to ultimately lead to the brink of liquidation.

The signings of nine players, with a few internationals amongst them, would appear to have been a somewhat scattergun approach by Cathro and Hearts Director of Football Craig Levein especially when the new manager would have been able to have coasted through the remainder of the season prior to making his ‘own’ signings during the summer transfer window when players are far easier to sign.

Having splashed out a reported £175,000 for a former St Mirren striker you have to wonder if Hearts have truly learned from lessons past or are playing an ambitious game of speculate to accumulate, especially with full funding not yet in place for their new main stand.

Hibs, whilst sitting pretty at the top of the Championship, six points clear of nearest rivals Dundee United, have rarely hit top form this season.

On very few occasions have the players hit the heights everyone knows they’re capable of with only Brondby away and Dundee United at home sticking out as top quality performances.

The bulk of the Cup winning squad is still at the club and are clearly capable of turning up and defeating a side who may well have been lucky to paper over the cracks against the worst Rangers side anyone has seen and an average Motherwell who held their own until being reduced to ten men.

Hibees performance last weekend at home to Ayr was abysmal and Neil Lennon will be hoping his players had this cup tie at the back of their minds to justify such a lacklustre display.

Having grown up in an era when Hearts always seemed more ‘up’ for the derby games than us that particular mindset seems to have turned in recent years and Hibs fans will expect a performance full of blood and guts which could lead to be the game being an interesting spectacle for those neutrals watching in the pub or at home on tv.

Willie Collum, often woeful, always controversial, is the referee for the clash and both sets of fans will be hoping he doesn’t overly influence the game by dishing out needless red cards or awards the other side a dubious penalty as is his seemingly perpetual liability.

Make no doubt about it. This is the one and only game fans of either Edinburgh side crave to win this season. There’s doubt in the minds of Hibees and Jambo’s despite the blowhards from many on message boards proclaiming comfortable wins for their side. Let the Derby Fear begin.

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