When it was confirmed that the Championship season was going to be a shorter than usual race the common belief was that it would suit the chasing pack, rather than Hearts.
People, myself included, thought that if one of the other promotion contenders got off to a fast start they would be able to get themselves in front and put the sort of pressure on the Jam Tarts that wouldn’t normally come over the marathon of a normal campaign.
It’s actually worked out the other way.
Hearts got off to a flyer, while the others were beating each other and struggling for consistency, and it is that bank of points that is going to see Robbie Neilson’s men home.
I have absolutely no doubt that Hearts will get past the finishing line, albeit it won’t be with a sprint.
And it would be unfair to call it ‘falling over the line’ because the fact that their form was better in the first half of the season as opposed to the most recent half doesn’t matter.
All that counts is the end points total.
The race behind them is fascinating now, with Dundee, Raith Rovers and Inverness all starting to peak.
And I’m not counting Dunfermline out.
My feeling is that Dundee’s January transfer business will prove to be the decisive factor and, just as Hearts’ squad depth has been so important for them winning the league, it will be equally significant in getting the Dark Blues into second and avoiding an extra play-off round.
Ross County and Hamilton are struggling for form and, even though the play-off system is strongly weighted in favour of the top-flight side, this year could be a great chance for the Championship team.
Although Steve Clarke brought Craig Gordon back into the Scotland team for the match against the Faroe Islands, I still think David Marshall should and will be the goalkeeper when the Euros start in the summer.
Folk are saying Marshy was at fault for one of the goals we conceded against Austria and then in Israel.
He’ll analyse both of them and the second goal will be the one he’ll be more disappointed in.
The fact that he got two hands to the long-range shot makes it a goal that a keeper would expect to prevent.
I’m not so sure about that one.
I can remember getting slaughtered for a shot I pushed out to the side in Germany that they ended up scoring from – I actually got it wider than Marshy.
The ball that bounces right in front of you is the hardest one to deal with and you’re looking for your defenders to be on their toes to react quicker than the opposition strikers.
Craig came in and, although he had a clean-sheet against the Faroes, there was a simple dropped cross that could have easily resulted in an equalising goal.
The long and the short of it is Marshy still has a lot of credit in the bank and is playing his club football at a higher level.
He’s been a keeper who has dug us out of a hole far more often than he’s cost us and, as long as he finishes the season well with Derby, he has earned the manager’s loyalty.