John McGinn today insisted Hibs opening-day win over Championship rivals Falkirk proves that the Easter Road side “won’t be messed about” this season.
The Bairns ended the Capital club’s hopes of promotion only three months ago, pipping them to second place in the Championship table before beating them in dramatic fashion with Bob McHugh’s last-minute winner in the play-offs.
But, after seeing hotshot Jason Cummings take his goals tally to 50 in just 93 starts for Hibs with a double against the Bairns, McGinn revealed new boss Neil Lennon has installed a steelier mentality within the Easter Road squad.
The Scotland midfielder said: “I don’t know about the win over Falkirk laying down a marker, but it was a really important win. No game in this league is easy but we managed to go to one of the most difficult ones to start off with, a big test, and we have come through it.
“I think we will do well, but we can play better which is good for us.”
Having lost the opening game of last season at Dumbarton, McGinn admitted it was vital Hibs got off to a good start this time, saying: “We will be a scalp, just as Hibs always are. Last season at times we were not prepared for that, but this season is going to be different.
“There’s a different mentality around the place and we will look to make that clear on the pitch.”
Agreeing there is a greater physicality about Hibs now, the former St Mirren player said: “Falkirk is always a difficult place but we have dug in and come out with the win. It’s nice to get off to a flyer against a good side which will compete at the top end this season, there’s no doubt about that.
“We didn’t get off to a good start last season so it’s good to get in front of some teams and hopefully we can carry that on in the months ahead.
“They put us under some pressure towards the end of the game but throughout pre-season we have been very astute in our defending, dealing with crosses and the like. Falkirk threw everything at us but we showed real character and dealt with it all.
“We have a tall goalkeeper [Ross Laidlaw] with a presence and another [Ofir Marciano] with presence then we have Grant Holt up front with a presence and experience which will help us a lot.
“We are not going to be messed about as we were at times last season.”
McGinn also believes a Hibs support, buoyed by the club’s Scottish Cup triumph, can also play a big part, 1984 of the 6458 crowd at Falkirk Easter Road fans, while the club has sold more than 10,600 season tickets, their second-highest total ever.
He said: “I remember playing at Easter Road two or three seasons ago with St Mirren and the mood was completely different. Now it is a nice environment and hopefully that continues.”