Former Hibs defender Darren Dods believes the Easter Road club will pull away from the rest of the pack to take the Championship title with something to spare.
The Capital club were installed as firm favourites to win the league before a ball was kicked, the bookies’ take reinforced as Neil Lennon’s side won their opening five games.
That supercharged start has, however, stalled somewhat, a shock defeat by newly-promoted Ayr United at home allowing Queen of the South to topple them from the top of the table before a no-scoring draw at Palmerston Park left Hibs with only one point from their last two fixtures.
But Dods, now player-manager of League One outfit Brechin City, is adamant his old club can overcome this “blip” in style, just as they did during a season in the old First Division when Alex McLeish was manager.
He recalled: “Hibs were favourites back then but lost their second game at home to Stranraer and, in fact, they won only two of their first six league matches,
“In the early part of the season teams can match you but as the weeks and months go by the size and strength of the squad begins to tell. Under Alex Hibs put together a really good run through to the beginning of March which opened up a really big gap.”
With promotion all but assured McLeish, who already enjoyed a squad boasting the likes of Mixu Paatelainen, Russell Latapy and Stuart Lovell, had the luxury of planning for a return to the top flight, bringing in Franck Sauzee before the season was over with Nick Colgan, Matty Jack, Dirk Lehmann and Grant Brebner joining that summer.
And Dods reckons Lennon would love to find himself in the same position. He said: “You look at the strength in depth of the Hibs squad and you have to think that what’s happened over the past couple of weeks is no more than a blip. They started the season so well, the feelgood factor of winning the Scottish Cup gave everyone a lift and while you can always lose the odd game I think they’ll prove too strong over time,
“Having been involved in the play-offs in the last couple of seasons Hibs have maybe been that wee bit behind in terms of bringing players in because they haven’t known until after others which league they’d be playing in.
“I’m sure Neil would love to open up a gap which would mean avoiding the play-offs this time round and let him start speaking to potential signings early just as I’d imagine Alex did all those years ago.
“Neil will have lots of contacts – look at how he’s been able to bring in the likes of Grant Holt and Andrew Shinnie – and if they are in a strong position towards the end of the season I’m sure he’d be looking to talk to a high calibre of player with the carrot of Premiership football.”
Hibs bid to put the past couple of weeks behind them begins against another of Dods’ former clubs when Dundee United travel to Easter Road for Sunday’s televised match, one he feels will go the way of the Edinburgh side.
He said: “Ray McKinnon did well at Raith Rovers last season and I think as the new manager at United he will get it right. But I think at the they are still finding their feet in the Cahmpionship. They’re adjusting to that level, it takes time to get used to it. They’ve brought in quite a lot of new players and it does take time for a team to settle down and gel.”