THE thing about derbies is that the result tends to be etched into the fixture and recounted interminably the next time the two sides prepare to face each other.
The Edinburgh derby is a pertinent example; when Hibernian hosted their rivals in the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round earlier this season they were mercilessly reminded that only a few months before Hearts had spanked them in the final.
The extent of that defeat means it is unlikely to ever lose relevance in the eyes of supporters, the memory of Hibs' thumping 7-0 win in 1973 having already endured the passage of time. That result was given another airing this week as it came at Tynecastle on New Year's Day, with Hearts hosting their rivals tomorrow in their first game of 2013.
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Hearts have racked up eight win and four draws in a commanding spell over Hibs since then but they will be wary of losing a second derby this season given how resurgent the Easter Road side have been. Hibs spent part of the campaign at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League table and defeated current leaders Celtic on Saturday.
"We know we can go and stand toe to toe with anybody now and that's the important thing," said Pat Fenlon, the Hibs manager. "That's what we've changed about this club, and that's what will happen as well. We know it's going into the lion's den, it's a difficult venue, but we are looking forward to it and we are relishing it. We want to go there and put on a performance for our supporters."
A win will seem particularly sweet for either side given it will be savoured during a two-week winter shutdown after the derby and Fenlon is eager that his side earn their reprieve from league duty. "It's another big game but we've got a good break after that and the players should go into it looking forward to it now as well," he said.
There is an added incentive for Jamie Walker to excel tomorrow should he earn a place in the Hearts team. The teenager has emerged as one of a plethora of aspiring talents at Tynecastle this season but he carries with him the weight of expectation that comes with being related to a club legend. Walker's great, great uncle was former Hearts player and manager Tommy Walker.
"I'm not sure how many fans will know I'm actually related to Tommy Walker as he's my great, great uncle," said the winger. "That's why the family were so proud when I broke into the Hearts team. He is a legend at Tynecastle and I know I have big boots to fill.
"That brings it's own pressure, but I'm enjoying myself. I've got a few books in the house about Tommy and I look at them from time to time. Hearts is a massive club and you shouldn't need to have anything to drive you on to play for the first team, but of course I have extra reason to do well."