Shankland didn’t take part as his move was confirmed less than three hours before kick-off, but there was considerable relief within the travelling party at Deepdale that the striker’s deal finally went through.
The Edinburgh club identified him as a primary summer target and his arrival on a three-year contract should add a fair degree of potency to their attack.
This friendly pitted them against English Championship opponents containing some familiar faces. Ben Woodburn spent last season on loan at Hearts from Liverpool and is now a permanent Preston player alongside former St Johnstone midfielder Ali McCann, ex-Partick Thistle defender Liam Lindsay.
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Perhaps predictably, it was Woodburn who struck on 34 minutes to open the scoring. He looked a more dangerous presence than many of his outings in maroon last season as he sets about impressing the Preston manager Ryan Lowe.
Peter Haring brought Hearts level with a second-half penalty before substitute Alan Browne fired the winning goal entering the closing stages.
Cammy Devlin, Josh Ginnelly, Euan Henderson and Connor Smith were not involved for Hearts on the night but defender Craig Halkett made a welcome return to action following ankle surgery in May.
The pocket of travelling fans from Edinburgh made plenty noise including some light-hearted jeering when Woodburn took possession of the ball. In a game lacking the obvious tenacity brought by competition, Preston threatened first through striker Ched Evans’ deflected shot from 20 yards.
Hearts responded when Liam Boyce side-footed Barrie McKay’s delicate cross goalwards, forcing a save from the former Kilmarnock and Aberdeen loanee Freddie Woodman in the home goal.
Woodburn then broke the deadlock with a calm first-time shot into the bottom corner from wing-back Brad Potts’ delivery. He didn’t celebrate making his mark against old colleagues although it was a handy advantage to take into the interval.
Woodburn sprinted through to shoot narrowly wide early in the second period. Moments later, Hearts midfielder Jorge Grant was cautioned for a late tackle on the Welsh internationalist.
Another new signing for the Tynecastle side, Australian defender Kye Rowles, made his debut as a substitute. He looked sharp and composed on the left side of the three-man central defence and is expected to feature reglarly in this season’s starting line-up.
The visitors forced an equaliser just after the hour mark, largely thanks to a marauding attacking run by defender Toby Sibbick. He scampered through the Preston half and into the penalty area to play a low ball towards Boyce. The Northern Irishman cut inside and was fouled by Ben Whiteman, allowing Haring to convert from the spot.
However, this game was decided on 76 minutes when Browne’s shot deflected off Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon to trundle over the line.
Preston NE (3-5-2): Woodman; Storey (Diaby 69), Lindsay (Cunningham 78), Hughes (Bauer 78); Potts, McCann (Browne 69), Whiteman (Amaral 88), Woodburn (O’Neill 86), Brady (Johnson 46); Evans (Ledson 75), Riis.
Hearts (3-4-3): Gordon; Sibbick (Halkett 77), Neilson (Kingsley 46), Cochrane; Atkinson (M Smith 56), Haring, Grant (Mackay-Steven 69), Halliday (Rowles 56); Forrest, Boyce, McKay.
Referee: P Bankes.