Neil Lennon believes Hibs have lost the element of surprise as they prepare to return to the Ladbrokes Premiership as a result of the success the club has enjoyed in the past two seasons.
After three years in the Championship, many might think Lennon’s players could well be an unknown quantity. However, the Hibs boss reckons that, in fact, his team are “household names”. Hibs backed up last season’s historic Scottish Cup triumph by taking the Championship title and, in doing, so Lennon insists his players have risen to the challenge when needed, Premiership sides Aberdeen, Dundee United and St Johnstone all beaten en route to the League Cup final while Hearts, Inverness, the then holders, and United again all fell as they returned to Hampden for that epic day last May.
And, in the season just ended, Hearts were again knocked out of the Scottish Cup while Hibs’ hopes of retaining the trophy were only ended in a five-goal thriller against the Dons, a match which Lennon firmly believes they could well have won.
While their Championship campaign suffered a few hiccups before the title was clinched with three games remaining, Lennon was adamant his players had turned it on when needed.
“We were perceived as the big fish,” he said. “But Dundee United were always going to be there, as were Falkirk.
“We were the pre-season favourites and we had to carry that all season.
“There were a few hitches – but we were always going to get that. We only lost three games, one when we were down to ten men, one by a penalty and one in which we deserved to be beaten.
“When the big games came round and we needed to win we were brilliant and we showed great steel and strength in the two games against Hearts. “Unfortunately we didn’t go all the way in the semi-final, but now we have a lot to look forward to.”
When asked if his side could catch their Premiership opponents on the hop, Lennon said: “I think they are household names. The majority of them have won two trophies in two years.
“It has been a great ride and we want that to continue.
“We have our eyes on silverware and a strong performance in the league.”