IF this tough start to the season has been like pushing a bike up the steepest of hills then the good news for Hearts is they will soon be freewheeling down the other side.

Saturday’s goalless draw against Aberdeen was a fifth successive league match away from Tynecastle as the construction of the new main stand goes on, although this was at least a home match in the sense that it took place barely a mile away at a stadium the club has utilised before, and where their supporters formed the majority of the crowd.

The merits of Murrayfield as a football stadium tend to split opinion but, against a team that had won every league game prior this visit, this was a solid start for Hearts. This experience under their belt, they will head back out on the road for four league games before returning to the home of rugby for games against St Johnstone and Rangers late next month. Murrayfield will never feel like home to Hearts in the traditional sense but they are gradually adjusting to its surrounds.

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“It’s a lovely stadium, it makes the pitch feel a bit bigger than it is just because of the sheer size of it,” said defender Aaron Hughes. “I can imagine when the rugby is here and there is sixty odd thousand it would be some place to be.

“It still felt like a home game just with the support and having more supporters. I don’t think in our heads it ever felt like an away game. Everything this week has been normal, I guess it’s just the surroundings.

“And we had training here on Friday just to get used to it. No, when you have that amount of supporters in the stadium it’s always going to feel like a home game.”

The Rangers game on October 28 is particularly significant as it is the first of eight home Premiership games in succession for Craig Levein’s side, with the match against Kilmarnock a week later the first to take place inside the upgraded Tynecastle should the rest of the work be completed on time.

That sequence of home games ought to give Hearts a massive leg-up if they can stay competitive over the next six weeks, although three clean sheets in their opening five league matches suggest they have what it takes to cope.

“There has never been a sense of us struggling, certainly not within the group,” added Hughes. “I guess that happens when you change manager and we had a tough start at Celtic. But I thought when Jon Daly came in and Austin MacPhee and [Liam] Foxy we had a really good period there and we worked hard for that.

“And then here we have shown we can dig in and battle and find a way into the game and play a little bit of football and produce good chances. We have set a standard now we have to hit every week.

“There’s no point doing that in a one-off game and not doing it again for another five games. I think that’s the most important thing for us, to take all the positives from that. There are still little things I am sure we can get better at but the amount of positives that came out of that game, if we take that forward it will hopefully be a good season for us.”

This was Levein’s first game back in the dug-out since leaving Scotland late in 2012 and there were plenty of positives for him to mull over afterwards. Hughes’ revealed the director of football’s decision to become more hands-on as manager has already made a difference.

“It’s a subtle difference, really,” he added. “You know it’s just little things here and there. Getting that feeling of being hard to beat, making sure that at all times from a defender’s point of view, when we’re attacking we need to be on the front foot and make that first contact so it keeps us on the front foot and stops them from counter attacking.

“Just his presence around the place. He hasn’t come in and screamed and shouted and pulled the roof down, he has just been in and he’s very clear and concise and to the point. It’s only been a couple of days but that’s how it has been so far.

“He definitely has a presence with his experience and what he has done but I think with him being around the club anyway and seeing him day to day I think it’s just he is more hands on now than he was before. So far so good.”

Aberdeen sacrificed their perfect record on Saturday and slipped into second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership but would surely have lost the game had goalkeeper Joe Lewis not been in terrific form to make a string of top saves.

“Since Joe has come in he has been different class and I think by the way the fans have taken to him as well definitely shows what he’s been about,” said captain Graeme Shinnie. “Today he’s pulled off some great saves and kept us in the game so yeah he’s been brilliant. I think that’s the positive note from today: the clean sheet for big Joe and the back four.

“He’s up there definitely [with the best goalkeepers in the country], a million per cent. Since he’s come in he’s been brilliant, some of the saves he’s pulled off for us has been brilliant.”