The 18-year-old Easter Road prospect is hoping for a start against Aberdeen in today's William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round clash, a game the Dons see as a chance to stop their season slipping away.
Handling was sent to Berwick Rangers for the final two months of last season and was introduced to the more physical side of the Irn-Bru Third Division.
But despite his slight frame and tender years, the forward thrived among the grown-ups in Scotland's bottom tier, bagging seven goals in as many games.
Back in Edinburgh in the summer ,he was told by manager Pat Fenlon he would finally get his chance with Hibs' top team, but his development would be carefully checked.
That meant 10 run-outs as a substitute, but patience paid off for the Haddington lad, who netted his first goal for the club against Motherwell in October, and he got his first start in the midweek defeat to Ross County in Dingwall.
It was a confident display and, on reflection, one Handling believes had its foundations laid on loan to Berwick.
He said: "The players in the lower leagues are giants – big, massive men. The tackles come flying in and it took me the first three games to adapt to it. After that I was getting used to the standard. But the step up to the SPL is massive.
"I thought about going back out on loan last month and I did speak to the gaffer about it but nothing came up, so I'm happy to stay here. But I'd definitely encourage the other young boys here to go out on loan if they get the chance. "
Handling admits dislodging frontmen Leigh Griffiths and Eoin Doyle – the scorers of 23 goals combined this term – is not a realistic feat.
But he is pinning his hopes for the Aberdeen game on retaining the spot just behind Hibs' two main strikers that he filled against County.
"I've been a striker all my life but I prefer playing just behind the strikers, actually. If I can play just in behind those two, that's a good opportunity for me.
"The other senior lads have been brilliant with me. The skipper James McPake and Eoin were great with me before the game on Wednesday and gave me a few words of advice to help me through the game.
"And of course, there's not many better players to learn from than Leigh. He's been on fire this season. He's an inspirational figure and has done everything right on the pitch, he can score from anywhere."
Aberdeen have not won in 2013, losing twice and drawing twice, including a goalless encounter with Hibs last weekend.
They dropped to sixth place in the league after their 3-1 midweek defeat by St Johnstone, with five clubs closing in below, and the Easter Road clash offers the opportunity to give their season a much-needed boost.
Captain Russell Anderson, back from a two-game injury lay-off, said: "People just look at the last game and we deserve the criticism we got from that but things can change very quickly and we have a great opportunity to do that on Sunday.
"We realise it is a huge game for Aberdeen. Nobody is underestimating how big a game it is for us. It is a huge game for both teams."
Manager Craig Brown knows his side have to turn things round fast but realises Hibs will prove tough opponents.
"We've given away soft goals recently - we are suffering," he said. "They are self-inflicted errors. These are careless errors, from many different players. We must eliminate them.
"This has been a spell, an uncharacteristic spell, I hope, for us. The start of 2013 has been terrible. We can't continue like that."
Brown added: "Hibs are a determined team, a good cup fighting team. They were in the final last year and they battled their way there very effectively."
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