This has generally been the case when the club's younger players have attempted to gauge their own development, since the scale of progress required to be made by the club will always look greater - even ahead of a league match with Celtic. "This is possibly the biggest challenge I have faced," said Brad McKay.
That the defender is just eight matches into his senior Hearts career might suggest that such a statement is uttered on a fairly regular basis, not least as part of the Scotland under-21 team which last month succumbed to England 6-0 at Bramall Lane. McKay has learned that it is necessay for a player to bury that sort of disappointment if they are to progress and that seemed pertinent as the 20-year-old heaped praise on to his Hearts team-mates ahead of the visit of Celtic on Saturday.
There is further cause for optimism at Tynecastle as Mikael Lustig, the Celtic defender, is unlikely to play this weekend after suffering from a back problem while on international duty. The Swede was unable to play in a World Cup qualifying win over Kazakhstan on Tuesday night and will likely still be sidelined for his club's trip to Edinburgh.
"You always know it is a huge occasion playing Celtic, and you know exactly what to expect - great quality players and a huge support that they bring to Tynecastle," said McKay. "But we are not going expecting anything less than a victory."
That view might not be shared by anyone with an eye for statistics - the Tynecastle side having not beaten Celtic in almost two years, a run of form composed of defeats in their last four meetings and an aggregate score of 14-1. McKay would not allow that to obscure his enthusiasm for a fixture he has only ever been able to appreciate from the stands.
"Both sets of fans are always singing and making an unbelievable noise and it makes for a great spectacle," he said. "As a young boy, you are up in the stands thinking: 'I wonder what it would like to be a part of one of those games'. The matches against Hibs, Celtic, Rangers and the like were always something I dreamed of being a part of."
He will benefit from those aware of the realities, too, with Billy Brown yesterday signing a contract until January. The 62-year-old had been working for free as assistant to manager Gary Locke and has now formalised his position by agreeing a contract. "I have a lot of enthusiasm for the club and the job and I'm very excited about what's happening here at the moment," said Brown.
"We have the whole season to keep chipping away at the teams above us. The young players have done exceptionally well so far and they will only get better."