Fixtures list offers Hibs early opportunity to repeat last season's start and build up a head of steam
If getting off to a positive start in the Premiership sets the tone for the season as a whole, Hibs have been handed an opening run of fixtures that is laced with possibilities.
Seeking to live up to last season’s third place finish, Jack Ross’ men raise the curtain on their Premiership campaign a day later than many of their rivals, away to Motherwell on Sunday, August 2, in a televised encounter, and follow that up with a home head-to-head with one of last term’s bottom six sides, Ross County, before travelling to Dens Park to face newly promoted Dundee, who they defeated in twice on cup duty.
Last season’s highest league finish in 16 years was built on the foundation of a bright start that saw the Easter Road side win their first three league games, and move unbeaten through their first five before they had to face up to the likes of Aberdeen, Rangers and then Celtic.
That favourable start propelled them to the highest echelons of the league and set the tone for a league season where they never once dropped out of the top four.
But this year, there is ongoing speculation around how many of their main men can be retained and ongoing trading, in and out, could provide a degree of unpredictability to those opening games,
There will, undoubtedly, also be an additional challenge this year as city rivals Hearts return to the fold, and the first derby has been scheduled for Tynecastle on September 11.
Hibs will be hoping to head into that buoyed by a sizeable points haul from the preceding matches and looking to kick on prior to a tough end of September, where they face up to the team who inflicted the anguish in both the League and Scottish Cup last season, St Johnstone, and then on into an October where there is a pile up of games against last season’s other top finishers, Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen.
They will be intent on making a better fist of things in those head-to-heads after losing their corresponding meetings with both Aberdeen and Celtic last season. However, they received a huge confidence boost from the performance and draw they managed in their first tussle with Steven Gerrard’s men and a similar result against the defending champions would boost morale again.
By the end of that run of games, Ross and everyone else at Hibs should have a clearer idea of where they sit in the 2021/22 pecking order and whether any replication or even advancement on last season’s achievements will be possible.
But, there will also be a testing December, when those same fixtures are squeezed in between a home game against Motherwell and trips to Paisley and Tannadice before the second derby of the season, at Easter Road, on January 2.
They will enjoy the reinstated winter break straight after that game and the January transfer window will open. Hibs will hope that the early season form means that their players are, once again, impressing and in demand. By that stage, they will know whether there is greater value in sticking or twisting. But there can be few complaints about the hand the fixture list has dealt them.