A Stevie Mallan thunderbolt appeared to have turned up the heat even further on Levein as he fired Hibs ahead early in the second half, a strike which prompted chants of “We want you to go” from the Hearts support while Hibs fans retorted with “We want you to stay.”
But Hearts hauled themselves back into the game, striker Uche Ikpeazu squeezing home an equaliser before Aaron Hickey’s deflected strike brought them the winner six minutes from time.
Heckingbottom took an hour before facing his after-match press conference, time he insisted he needed to get himself in the right frame of mind.
While describing himself as “gutted” to have lost the match, the Yorkshireman met the inevitable questions regarding his future face on, insisting that while he had no problem answering them, they were being directed at the wrong person.
“Have I got confidence that I can turn it around?” he said. “Yeah, 100 per cent. I’ve got confidence. I would love to see your face if I sat here and said otherwise. A hundred per cent. Again, you will ask me those things. I can’t think like that. To do your job as a manager, you can’t think like that. It’s pointless. What’s the point in doing that?”
Heckingbottom conceded, though, that there was no hiding place in the current predicament, insisting he’ll swing the axe if need be to get the club heading in the right direction.
He said: “It was similar to the game we played against Hearts here last year. We should have been out of sight and got punished near the end.
“We need to be more clinical, more ruthless. I’m looking at the attacking players on the pitch. How many shots did they have on goal, the attacking players? How often did they really work their keeper?
“Again, that’s not a tactical issue in terms of getting up the pitch, getting into positions. Belief, quality, a real desire to score a goal. That’s what you need. At 2-1 we changed shape and were going for it. I would have loved something to have fallen for us then, of course.
“But that was going a bit more gung-ho. There’s got to be a conviction in both boxes.”
He also revealed he had immediately been looking at what can be changed ahead of Wednesday night’s Betfred Cup tie against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. He said: “I’ve already been looking back at the video of the game and, straight away, I’m thinking about what I show the players tomorrow (Monday).
“What will I tell the players? How is it going to be delivered? Because we’ve got to change some things. That’s the job 24/7.”