Hearts player Michael Smith believes they are the best team in Edinburgh despite trailing Hibernian by 20 points.
The versatile former Peterborough player is confident Hearts can get the upper hand in the Ladbrokes Premiership next season.
But he admits the aim for Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle is to scupper Hibs’ ambitions of getting second place in the league.
Hearts are consigned to sixth after a challenging season which saw Craig Levein replace sacked head coach Ian Cathro just before the Premiership campaign began, plus a delayed return to a redeveloped Tynecastle and a number of long-term injuries to key players such as Arnaud Djoum.
Smith claims Hibs’ continuity has been an advantage as the Championship title winners push for a European spot.
The Northern Ireland international said: “There’s no hiding from it, they have been better than us this year. We are looking to stop them, they are playing for second. We are looking to give our fans something to shout about and finish the season on a high. We are out to stop them.
“If we play well, we’ll beat them. I believe our team is better than theirs, but since coming up last year they have had the same team throughout the season really and they have done well. There is no hiding from it, fair play to them.
“But they could probably lose a few players next year and then we’ll see what happens.
“We will obviously bring in a few players, the gaffer will bring in his style of players, and we’ll set out a bit differently next season, maybe. Once we get a full pre-season under the gaffer and we know what’s happening, then I think we’ll be better.”