This season has levelled Hearts.

The majority of it has carried the effect of a gut punch, the club left doubled over and staring down into the league below them. An instance of casual name-calling might not have been expected to leave much of an impression as a result, although the notion that the Tynecastle side are now the favourites in tomorrow's Edinburgh derby was smothered quickly by Gary Locke.

The Hearts manager is well aware of the torrid results being churned out by Hibernian - they have won just once in 15 matches - but he dismissed their frailty, simply. "I certainly don't buy into their current form," he said.

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Given that funds remain tight at Tynecastle as the club work to exit administration, there is perhaps a joke in there somewhere. Or else there could be were so many in Scottish football not be busy sniggering at Hibs. Their rotten form set in after January 2, when the Leith side won at home against Hearts.

Locke is wary of his players being considered the strongest bunch in the capital - they are relegated after all - and instead talked up the strong points of Hearts' city rivals. "They have good players and a great management team and we know it is going to be a really difficult game," said the manager, who is unable to call upon Jamie Hamill due to a ban.

"People say we are favourites but I don't agree with that. Hibs are above us in the league and they have a really good squad of players. I think if Hibs win that will be them safe and they will know that. So we'll have to be on our toes to take anything out of it."

The Hearts support will be on their feet should their side deliver a win at Easter Road tomorrow. It is a sensation to which Jason Holt is attuned, having grown up a fan of the club he now represents on the pitch. "All the derby games are special and I always enjoyed going to Easter Road as a fan," added the midfielder. "There is a real buzz about the place in the away end."