Hibs skipper David Gray has insisted there is no reason to believe the Easter Road side can’t repeat their Hampden heroics of 2016 by lifting the Scottish Cup again this season.
Gray’s dramatic last-minute winner against Rangers 20 months ago ended the Edinburgh club’s 114-year wait for the trophy, their run to glory sparked by a stunning comeback against Hearts at Tynecastle.
A third successive visit to the Gorgie ground in the competition awaits Gray and his team-mates when they return from a week’s training in the Algarve and if the luck of the draw pitching the two Capital clubs against each other yet again may seem spooky, the Hibs defender is happy to take it.
He said: “That’s fine, if it keeps going the way it has in the past couple of seasons with the runs we’ve had, then we’ll take that, definitely. Obviously they are difficult games and you have no right to go there and say, ‘we will win’, but it’s one we are all looking forward to and knowing we are capable of doing that.”
Hibs will cross the city for the second time in a month undefeated in nine derbies, but Gray feels the belief they gained that day the way they came back from being 2-0 down with ten minutes to play two years ago before going on to win the replay still drives them on.
He said: “We were well on top and didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down. The manager [Alan Stubbs] told us a goal would change the game, if we got one we’d get two. That’s the way it turned out.
“It was the big turning point. We really believed we would take them back to Easter Road and win. The mentality shifted. We were now favourites and I think the Hearts players believed that as well.
“I believe that game was the catalyst for it all. It changed the mindset and you could see that in the way we played in the replay. We blew Hearts away from the start and there was only going to be one winner. We’ve played really well against them from then on in.”
Hibs’ current hold over the Jambos includes a cup repeat last season, Neil Lennon’s side drawing at Tynecastle before knocking Hearts out in an Easter Road replay.
Admitting Hibs face a tough task on the other side of the city, Gray insisted he and his team-mates can dream of winning the cup again.
“Imagine we won it twice,” he said. “There’s no reason why not. We have a good squad and we’ve had good success in the cups over recent years.
“We believe we are good enough to win any game on our day, so you never know what could happen in the cups. We have that winning mentality.
“The first couple of minutes of the semi-final last season against Aberdeen were frustrating, but we got a goal back and were unlucky to go on and lose that game. We know on our day we are good enough to compete against the likes of Celtic.”
Gray revealed the prospect of the first game after the break being against Hearts had added a bit of “extra zip” to training in Portugal. He said: “Every game in SPFL is a big game, everyone wants to play in them.
“But derbies are brilliant. It was disappointing for me sitting watching from the bench last time, so I’m eager to try and play. Everyone wants to play in big games, but the good thing with the break is that we are away, we’ll bond together as a team and put in some hard work.”