The former Hearts midfielder watched his side go down 3-0 and bemoaned disruption to their pre-season because of Covid 19. They had to cancel friendlies and travelled to Edinburgh with a depleted squad.
Hartley said his team can only learn from playing against experienced Hearts players preparing for the Scottish Premiership campaign.
“Our lads will learn that, if you give good players time and space, they will punish you,” he said. “Hearts’ movement caused us a lot of problems, our communication could have been better, they had a lot of speed and energy in their team, plus a good bench to choose from.
“It’s a good learning curve for our lads. They won’t play against that level of team again this season. We just have to keep working away. That’s the big thing for us to make sure we are ready for the league starting at the end of the month.”
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Leighton McIntosh had an early chance cleared off the goal line for Cove, but thereafter Hearts took command as goals from Andy Halliday, Liam Boyce and Gary Mackay-Steven won the tie.
“We had a good opportunity with McIntosh early on but it was a hard game. We haven’t played any pre-season games so it was important getting minutes into people’s legs,” said Hartley.
“We were trying to patch some folk up, some haven’t trained, some were out of position but it was a good workout for us. We didn’t give in and kept going to the end.”