HIBS EIGHT match unbeaten run in the Championship was brought to an abrupt halt by a last minute goal from Falkirk defender David McCracken.
And it was no more than the Easter Road outfit deserved for producing an insipid, uninspiring performance, short on ideas going forward and rarely threatened Bairns goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
But just as Hibs looked like escaping with a point, McCracken latched onto a loose clearance 20 yards out to drill the ball low beyond Hibs keeper Mark Oxley to give Falkirk their second win of the season over the Capital side.
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs was forced into two changes, Heffernan replacing the suspended Dominique Malonga to make his first start since September 13 while the injury which forced skipper Liam Craig out of the Scottish Cup win over Alloa Athletic saw his place go to Sam Stanton.
The opening minutes were as dreich as the Falkirk weather but the outlook brightened for the home side as Loy latched onto a Will Vaulks’ pass only for Lewis Stevenson to come up with a superb tackle, one which earned him a pat on the back from the Bairns’ striker.
A through ball from Stanton created the first hint of danger from Hibs but defender David McCracken got just enough on the ball to send it back to his goalkeeper MacDonald with both Heffernan and Jason Cummings trying to get on the end of it.
Stanton sent a header from a Scott Allan cross over but Hibs were looking far from assured and it took a last-ditch tackle from Paul Hanlon on Loy to prevent him putting the Bairns ahead.
Loy rippled the sidenetting with another shot before Liam Fontaine managed to get in a block as Botti Biabi met Kieran Duffie’s knockdown, Stevenson completing the clearance by prodding the loose ball behind for a corner.
Having survived those scares Hibs almost took the lead three minutes from the interval, Heffernan’s lay-off finding Stanton, scorer of a hat-trick for the Under-20s in midweek, who saw his shot deflected just wide of target.
Loy should have given Falkirk the lead six minutes into the second half, Craig Sibbald’s free-kick falling invitingly for him but he could only blaze the ball high over the bar.
But Falkirk had Luke Leahy to thank for keeping them level minutes later, the defender in the right place to block Heffernan’s powerful shot after MacDonald could only push Danny Handling’s cross-cum-shot into the striker’s path.
Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Taiwo (Cooper 68), Alston (Shepherd 81), Sibbald, P Grant, Leahy, Biabi (Smith 65), Loy.
Substitutes not used: Bowman, Dick, T Grant, Maybury.
Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, S Allan, Robertson, Stanton, Handling, Cummings (L Allan 46), Heffernan (Harris 81)..
Substitutes not used: Perntreou, Booth, Kennedy, Jake Sinclair, Martin.
Referee: Stephen Finnie.