Paul Hanlon insists Hibs must today start the process of bringing a sense of harmony back to Easter Road.
The Hibees have found their home ground more of a hindrance than a help in recent seasons, with a string of negative results and stale performances bringing restlessness and, at times, venom from the stands.
With new chief executive Leeann Dempster and head coach Alan Stubbs leading efforts to revitalise the club, centre-back Hanlon believes that this afternoon’s Championship opener at home to Livingston can act as a fresh start in reviving the atmosphere in the stadium.
“The manager has come in and really helped the players, building us back up and getting our confidence to where it should be,” said Hanlon.
“Now it is up to us players to do that for the fans.”
They have been great in pre-season coming out to support us. So it’s another challenge for us to show them at home what we can do and get them back onside.
“I’m sure everyone in the stadium last season could sense it when things weren’t going well, but it’s up to us to make them happy.
“They’re there to support us and see us play. If you are not performing then that’s what happens. It’s the same with every team.
“Going to Easter Road is something we are looking forward to now. We’re playing a style of football we are all enjoying, and hopefully the fans will enjoy it as much as we do.”
Hanlon, sidelined by a knee injury, watched on helplessly as Hibs plummeted towards the Championship in the closing months of last season.
Even though he played no direct part in relegation, his Easter Road future, just like that of everyone at the club, was in the balance.
While 15 players departed in the close-season, Hanlon, one of Hibs’ best performers over the past two seasons, was put at ease when Stubbs arrived and informed him that he saw him as an integral part of his plans.
“It was tough last season. I was injured and I had to get an operation on my knee and so I was worried about that,” he said.
“At the same time, the team wasn’t doing well on the pitch. We were still in the hunt for a top six place when I got injured, so it was hard sitting in the stand every week knowing I wasn’t going to make it back towards the end of the season. I am just glad to be through it.
“When a new manager comes in, you are worried if he likes you or not, but in the first couple of days we met up and he asked me how I was and then told me I was a big part of his plans.
“That settles you down and gives you confidence and a belief in yourself. I want to do really well for him.”
Hanlon, the second-longest-serving player at the club, is hoping to benefit from working under the former highly-regarded centre-back and fourth manager of his Hibs career.
Stubbs follows Tony Mowbray, who was in charge when Hanlon was a teenager at the club, John Hughes and Terry Butcher in taking their knowledge of life as a central defender into the Hibs job.
“I don’t remember too much about the manager as a player, but he played at a great standard and as well as being a great defender he was a great passer,” he said.
“That’s what I want to be and I want to learn as much as I can from him. I’ve played under Terry, John and Tony here as well so I have been able to learn from a lot of defenders. I have tried to learn as much as I can from all of them.”
The positive mood Stubbs has managed to generate in pre-season was further enhanced by Tuesday’s encouraging performance in the extra-time defeat by Rangers at Ibrox in the Petrofac Training Cup.
Hanlon said: “The place has been quite positive after the Rangers game. It wasn’t the result we wanted but there were a lot of positives to take from the game.
“It was great to go to Ibrox and play like that. If we can do it there we can do it anywhere. So we can take confidence going into the game against Livingston. The new gaffer has come in and everything he does is positive.
“We watched video clips on Thursday and it was all positive things, showing us what we did well. That gives you confidence and shows us we are on the right track.
“You can do well against the so-called lesser teams we faced in pre-season and look good, but when it comes to Ibrox in front of a big crowd, that’s when you need to show if you can do it or not and I thought we did well the other night.
“This season is going to be all about consistency if you want to be up there. We want to get off to a good start at home against Livingston, but if we play like we did in periods at Ibrox we should get a good result.”