Terry Butcher believes Hibs will be re-energised by the time they host St Mirren on Saturday, with his players currently enjoying an eight-day break between games.
The manager branded Friday night’s 1-0 defeat at Aberdeen – their sixth match in 20 days over a hectic festive programme – the worst he had seen since he and Maurice Malpas took charge two months ago as he accused his team of having let their standards slip.
Butcher insists, however, that Hibs will have learnt lessons from their Pittodrie setback and that the steady improvement which has taken place in recent weeks will continue.
In particular, he is eager to see Hibs carry more threat than they did against the Dons. “Only one corner in the whole games tells its own story,” he said.
“I want to see us create more going forward, to retain the ball better in the opponent’s half. If you fail to do that then the ball is going to keep coming back and even though you have a good, resolute defence sometimes it’s going to crack, there’s going to be an opportunity like there was for a 25 or 30 yarder to go in.
“We didn’t play anywhere near the level we are capable of. It was a harsh one to take, defeat late in a game, but the way we played was disappointing. The players know that, we told them in no uncertain terms. There were harsh lessons for us to learn, but we will learn from it.
“We will be better for this defeat. We will gain more from this defeat than if we had won. We’ll learn more in terms of what we have to do.
“Our restarts have to be better, throw-ins, set plays, free-kicks.
“I would rather have lost the game having had a right go and I am sure the fans would want that as well. It was frustrating for the fans having seen how well we had played at Tannadice and over the festive period to see a performance that fell well short of our normal standards.
“It’s a chance for the players to say ‘we have to be better than that all the time, in every game’. We cannot afford to fall below that standard. I couldn’t fault their work-rate, attitude or application, that was fantastic. But we are talking about quality on the ball and off it, quality of passing, runs.
“We have to work hard at that aspect and Pittodrie was a harsh reminder that although we have come a long way, there’s still a long way to go.
“Now we’ve got St Mirren at home with an eight-day break in between which gives us a chance to regroup, re-energise and to be able to look forward to a match at Easter Road.”