Three goals to the good after a rousing opening 45 minutes of industry and invention, the visitors still had to stave off a late charge of the green and white brigade as an engrossing encounter careered to a conclusion. They even survived a boisterous bawl for a penalty in injury time when a bouncing ball shot off Adam Campbell's hand. "You could've got him a contract with a volleyball team after that," said Hibernian manager Terry Butcher with a wry smile.
For the last 25 minutes, St Mirren were without their combative captain, Jim Goodwin, who was swiftly substituted after picking up his now inevitable booking. It was something of a pre-emptive measure from Danny Lennon to spare the player any more disciplinary despair and the St Mirren manager expressed his concerns over what he views as a growing witchhunt of the experienced midfielder.
"I fear for Jim in terms of his career," he said. "Jim can be 10 yards away from a foul and the fans are having a go at him. There was no malice in his fouls. He's no angel but you can't take that desire out of the game.
"As for the display, I thought we were fantastic. At 3-0, you try and pre-warn the players because one goal can change things and in that second half we rolled up our sleeves and showed hunger and desire."
Resplendent in canary yellow shirts, the gathering of St Mirren players looked like a mass break out from the Renfrewshire Cage & Aviary Bird Society. Their illuminating attire was not the only eyecatching thing about the visitors. For the Hibernian supporters, meanwhile, the first half was hands-over-the- eyes stuff.
A delightfully engineered goal in the fourth minute got the positive, purposeful visitors off to a flying start. A sweeping move down the left led to Sean Kelly curling over a cross and the on-rushing McGowan, recently convicted of assaulting a policeman, unleashed some venom on the ball, which struck the post and bounced into the net off the sprawling Ben Williams.
St Mirren were full of menace and capitalised on Hibernian's lack of pace and cover down the flanks. Campbell was instrumental in much of this good work and doubled the tally on 23 minutes. Having bombed down the right, he knocked a pass into John McGinn before continuing his run, accepting the tidy lay-off and slipping a neat finish past Williams.
The hosts, who had lost Ryan McGivern to injury early on, were in tatters and they were rent asunder again just two minutes later. Campbell waltzed unhindered through the flimsy Hibernian rearguard and popped over an inviting cross which Steven Thompson headed home. It was as easy as, well, one, two, three.....and it was nearly four on 41 minutes when McGowan hooked in an attempt which clattered back off the bar.
Hibernian were in need of a major shot in the arm - and no doubt Butcher's boot up the backside - and they were given renewed vigour on the hour when James Collins attacked Alex Harris' corner and thundered a header past Marian Kello.
St Mirren, though, continued to roam forward with expressive, sure-footed adventure while defending doggedly. It looked like they would coast over the line but Collins' header in the last minute set up a tense finale.
"That was the most wretched 45 minutes I've seen from any of my teams," said Butcher. "They were going to have the day off on Monday. . .but I'll have them in."