Tony Mowbray said on Friday that this was not about revenge. But try telling that to Hibernian's supporters, who taunted their rivals after a pulsating Edinburgh derby that saw Abdessalam Benjelloun shake Heart of Midlothian's Champions' League ambition.
The Moroccan came off the bench along with Paul Dalglish and both dovetailed on 78 minutes in a moment that eased the pain of the 4-0 thrashing by Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-final three weeks earlier.
Hearts will hope that Celtic can do them a favour by defeating Rangers today to maintain their five-point lead in second place. Yesterday, Hearts - or perhaps their capricious owner, Vladimir Romanov - played the rotation card and left out key contributors such as Andy Webster, Rudi Skacel, Julien Brellier and Edgaras Jankauskas and paid the price.
The effect was a dreadfully disjointed first-half display in which Hearts were fortunate to restore parity after Derek Riordan put Hibernian in front after 16 minutes.
The home side's hunger was underlined by the way Jay Shields tigerishly snapped into a tackle on Paul Hartley, which allowed Ivan Sproule to cut the ball across the box for Riordan to take two touches, the second a piercing volley that flew past goalkeeper Craig Gordon into the net.
It took almost half an hour for Hearts to draw a save from Zbigniew Malkowski, when Robbie Neilson's long-throw set up Saulius Mikoliunas's fierce shot which Malkowski superbly beat away.
However, the Pole, who was once Jerzy Dudek's deputy, made a horrendous error in stoppage time that would have made even the capricious Liverpool goalkeeper blush. A long ball by Neilson saw Gary Caldwell slip as he tried to gather it. The Hibernian captain tried to usher the ball back to Malkowski, who spilled it under pressure from Roman Bednar and hestabbed his shot into and empty net.
Bednar almost struck again at the start of the second half but this time Malkowski's touch took the shot wide of the post. Hearts now looked the team most likely to go on and win the game, but Benjelloun changed all that with 12 minutes left.
David Murphy's throw-in was gathered by Dalglish, who held off his marker like his famous father and laid the ball off for Benjelloun to thrash a 14-yard shot past Gordon and uncork Easter Road euphoria.Reuse content