Analysis from Tynecastle as Hearts progress to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup with a comfortable victory over Auchinleck Talbot.
Hearts played with the right tempo
Both manager and team wanted to avoid any possible embarrassment. Craig Levein went with what he felt was his strongest possible XI, and a very attacking one at that. The players carried out his instructions with the urgency required to ensure they weren't embroiled in a slog. It wasn't a perfect performance with the passing a bit sloppy even when Hearts were attacking in waves, while the second period did resemble a training exercise at times. But by always looking to get their foot on the ball and push the issue, the men in maroon were able to cut through the Junior side with ease and made sure passage into the next round was a comfortable.
Demetri Mitchell got a much-needed confidence boost
The left-back hasn't been at his best for most of the season. He's certainly failed to hit the heights of his loan spell in the second half of last term. For that reason it was encouraging to see him attack this game with gusto and emerge as Hearts' best player on the day. The Manchester United loanee scored the second goal before providing assists for the third and fourth. Yes, it was only against Junior opposition. But when a player is suffering from a lack of confidence, as Mitchell has appeared at times this season, any sort of display as bright as this one can prove to be a catalyst for the rest of the campaign. Fans will certainly be hoping it gives him some of his swagger back.
Michael Smith will be a big miss
The only real negative on the day was the injury suffered by Michael Smith about ten minutes from the end. Having just completed a routine pass the defender crumpled in a heap on the ground, with captain Christophe Berra immediately signalling to the bench that Smith's day was done. Levein then revealed that the Northern Irishman had suffered a torn thigh muscle and will be out for at least six weeks, possibly longer. Smith is a dependable defender who is capable of getting forward to complement the attack. He's Mr. 7/10 in the eyes of the fans, and can perform at right-back, wing-back, left-back and has emerged as a terrific option as a sweeper at the heart of a back three. Not only will Hearts miss his defensive nous at right-back - reserves Marcus Godinho and Jamie Brandon are more attack-minded - they'll also miss his versatility.