Hughes was a hot-headed young defender in 1988, with a collection of red cards and a reputation for wild fits of ill temper. Playing for Newtongrange Star, Hughes thought he had missed his chance at the senior game when Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown - the coaching team at Berwick Rangers - took a gamble on the fiery 23-year-old. Brown, now assistant coach at Hearts, took the young Hughes under his wing and taught him to control his emotions.
Hughes, now in his fifth coaching job, has never looked back. His second game in charge of Inverness will take him to Tynecastle where, as a former Hibernian manager, he is sure to receive a hot reception.
"I have great respect for Billy Brown for what he did for me during my career," Hughes said. "Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown put me on the straight and narrow. Billy has been a pain in the side about it ever since!
"I was a bit of a loose cannon and had a bit of a temper problem. But they taught me to channel all my aggression in the right manner."
It might seem unlikely for a former Hibs stalwart and manager, but Hughes also professes to having a rapport with Hearts. Certainly, he has a natural respect for the club and believes their future health is vital to the Scottish game. "Although Hearts are in a poor position with the points deduction and the mess the club is in, it is going to be a difficult match," he said. "Being from the other side of the city, I know the importance of Hearts to Scottish football.
"You will get one or two idiots who would say they want to see the demise of Hearts, but I am not one of them. In saying that, I am more desperate than ever to go down there and win."
Hearts have conceded 11 goals in their last two games, in heavy defeats to Celtic and Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup and SPFL Premiership respectively.
But Australian centre-half Ryan McGowan has challenged the suggestion that morale is low. "It's easy to keep our spirits up," he proclaimed.
"We've got the best job in the world. People may think it's all doom and gloom but to come in and kick a ball around for a few hours isn't the hardest thing in the world. So our spirits are quite high because everyone realises how lucky we all are to be getting regular football at this age. It's just a case of enjoying your football."