Hearts eased aside ten-man Dundee without a manager after Craig Levein was set to become manager of Leicester City.
Levein’s assistant Peter Houston, who would join Levein at Leicester, was in charge as Hearts moved up to fourth in the SPL despite the visitors’ early dominance.
Houston had made two changes to the side which were held to a 1-1 draw away to Dundee United in midweek – striker Ramon Pereira being preferred to Graham Weir in attack, while Jamie McAllister replaced Dennis Wyness.
Dundee manager Jim Duffy made wholesale changes. Out went Brent Sancho, Garry Brady, Neil Barrett, Glen Larsen and John Sutton and they were replaced with Tom Hutchinson, Jonay Hernandez, Mark Fotheringham, Fabian Caballero and Calum McDonald.
Hearts created the first real chance when a Robbie Neilson cross from the right found Spaniard Pereira alone inside the Dundee box, but the former Raith Rovers striker’s volley from 16 yards went high over the bar.
The visitors should have taken the lead in the 16th minute, when defender Stephen McNally split the Hearts defence with a through ball to find Caballero, but goalkeeper Craig Gordon was quick off his line to save at the second attempt.
Caballero cleverly sent Steve Lovell clean through, but again Gordon was equal to the task, brilliantly blocking the striker’s shot from 12 yards.
Hearts were awarded a penalty on 26 minutes after stand-in striker Kevin McKenna, who had been put through by Pereira. was felled by Hernandez, who was immediately shown the red card.
But Hearts captain Steven Pressley missed his second penalty in a row, his spot-kick crashing off the bar.
A McKenna header from a Paul Hartley cross also hit the bar a minute later and a mazy run by Pereira ended with a shot just wide of keeper Derek Soutar’s left-hand post.
Hearts finally took the lead after 34 minutes, Pereira finding McKenna, whose angled shot from 16 yards was too powerful for Soutar.
Caballero almost drew the sides level, but his shot from 25 yards went inches wide of Gordon’s post.
McKenna was first to threaten after the break, sending a 25-yard drive just past the post and the impressive Canadian flicked a Hartley cross against the bar.
An Alan Maybury drive from 12 yards was then well saved at the near post by Soutar.
Dundee pressed forward despite being down to ten men, but were caught on the break as Hartley settled the points for Hearts with ten minutes remaining with an angled drive.
Substitute Wyness added the third goal in stoppage time.
Jambos legend John Robertson was appointed boss on the following Thursday.
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Maybury, Webster, Pressley, Hartley, Kisnorbo, McAllister, Hamill, McKenna, Pereira.