Sutton: Hibs aren't capital kings yet
Striker John Sutton believes it is too early for people to talk of Hearts' demise and Hibernian being the dominant force in Edinburgh.
Hearts, languishing at the wrong end of a congested Clydesdale Bank Premier League table and in turmoil off the field, host Hibs on Thursday in their first match of 2013 and the final fixture before the two-week winter break.
Hibs, who lost 5-1 to Hearts in the William Hill Scottish Cup final in May, are more resilient this term after battling relegation in recent seasons and last month beat the holders in the fourth round of this year's competition.
Hibs' last Scottish Cup win was in 1902, exacerbating the pain of the Hampden loss, and Sutton was quick to point that out, while also noting Hearts have a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final to play at the end of this month.
"I think `power shift' is a bit strong," the Hearts striker said.
"At the end of the season if they're in second and we're where we are at the moment, they've won the Scottish Cup and we haven't done very well in the League Cup, maybe you can talk about it then. It's premature at the moment.
"Certainly they're a different proposition to play against this year. They are a lot more difficult side to play against. I think the results have shown that this season."
Sutton hopes Hearts, who had not lost in 12 derbies until the cup defeat, can go into the two-week hiatus on a high.
The striker said: "It's a big game. It would be a nice one to get a good result in, with the time off afterwards, give everyone a bit of confidence and put everyone in a good mood for a few weeks."
Sutton is happy with his contribution after starting regularly in recent weeks.
"I've felt I've done a reasonable job and hopefully that will continue," he added.
With Jamie Hamill still out with a knee injury, the promotion of youth appears to be the most likely option at Tynecastle, unless midfielder Darren Barr is switched to full-back.
Manager Pat Fenlon has dismissed suggestions his Hibernian side are inconsistent and is confident of backing up the defeat of Celtic with victory.
Hibs responded from a four-match winless streak, including a dire performance in losing at home to Ross County, by beating Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Celtic at Easter Road last Saturday.
Fenlon is looking forward to the chance for his players to show their quality at Tynecastle, at the home of their greatest rivals.
"We've been fantastic all season," he said.
"We didn't play to the level we felt we could against Ross County, but I don't think there's been loads of performances where we've been poor.
"It's going to be a tasty atmosphere and a decent game. I'm looking forward to it.
"Both the games we've played here have been fairly tight and close and some decent football.
"Hibs-Hearts is normally frantic and probably will be for a period. We feel we've got some players who can go in and play. That's what we've got to try to do.
"With the team we have we feel we can go there and cause them problems."