That, though, was clearly not enough for Michael Gardyne, who raced after a through ball from John Rankin as if he had designs on a second career as an Olympic sprinter. Fortunately, he also had the composure to do something useful when he got to it, his assured finish putting the arithmetic on their side as well.
The numbers aren't stacking up too well for Hibernian, though. They ended last season on the wrong end of a Scottish Cup final thrashing, and on the strength of this lacklustre performance they could be in for a few more in the weeks and months ahead. Manager Pat Fenlon has explored the bottom of the biscuit tin to put together a side, but he will be scraping holes in the thing before he finds one that is capable of mounting any sort of challenge.
The ever-urgent Leigh Griffiths apart, Hibs lacked spark in almost every area. They were cut apart by Gary Mackay-Steven, Richie Ryan and John Rankin in midfield, and they were asleep at the wheel in defence when Johnny Russell and Jon Daly started asserting themselves in the box. Fenlon has a hard winter ahead without a change of attitude among his players.
"We got what we deserved," said Fenlon. "We definitely need players to come in and strengthen the squad. We're actively looking, but people want more money than we can give. We released 16 players over summer and we need to bring better players in."
The more immediate concern for Peter Houston, the United manager, is Thursday's Europa League second leg against Dinamo Moscow in Russia. After last week's draw at Tannadice, his United side will have to be bold, but the manager has no problem with that. "I can't praise the players enough," said Houston, who sent out the same team that started – and finished – against Dinamo last Thursday. "They were running on Duracell batteries out there. But I have a bunch of players here who aren't scared of hard work. Attack is what we do best.
"We'll go to Moscow looking to take them on. We've started the league campaign in the right manner. I'm delighted."
As Houston said, United looked none the worse for their Europa League exertions four days earlier and went about their tasks at a breakneck pace in the early stages against Hibs. Almost literally, in the case of Russell, whose enthusiasm to capitalise on David Stephens' badly-timed header back to Ben Williams in the first minute resulted in a crunching collision with the Hibs goalkeeper.
Russell took a little while to regain his senses, although his contributions over the next few minutes suggested that he should clatter into goalkeepers more often. No sooner had the United striker reattached his compus to his mentis than he found himself in the heart of the penalty box after a move involving Daly, Barry Douglas and Rankin. It was no more than a half-chance, but Russell took the ball brilliantly, spun sweetly and finished off by lashing his shot low and hard past Williams.
Russell might have had another a few minutes later when an equally graceful spin-and-volley combination was parried by Williams. It was the goalkeeper's luck rather than judgment that the ball looped just over the crossbar rather than under it, but the former Colchester United man did make a powerful early bid for save of the season later in the half with a twisting, one-handed stop after Daly flicked header towards goal.
In fairness, Hibs did weather the United storm well enough for most of the first half, but there was such a lethargy about them going forward that it was a wonder that Griffiths, in the lone striker role, saw anything of the ball at all. He did well to put one shot on target after 16 minutes, but Radoslaw Cierzniak, the summer signing from Poland, had an easy job stopping the effort.
There was a suspicion that the steam would go out of United's performance after the break as Thursday's match began to take its toll, but they actually looked far more energised in the third quarter than they had in the 20 minutes before half-time. Much of the credit for that could be taken by Mackay-Steven, who burst into life after the interval and added new urgency to his side's overall performance.
The wonder was that it took until the 74th minute for the second goal to arrive. It was provided by Daly, who got his head to a powerful driven ball by Mackay-Steven to all but settle the result. It was the perfect start to the season for the home fans, with Gardyne giving them one more goal to celebrate late on.