Now, having worked to bridge the financial deficit, it would appear they are bent on tackling the points gap that separates their side from the rest of the SPFL Premiership.
When Jackie McNamara spoke of this encounter being everything he expected it to be, the Dundee United manager was making an arch reference to the physicality of a youthful but combative Hearts XI - and to the manner in which they would use the noise of the supporters to rouse them. And rouse them it did. All it took to make Tynecastle throb with noise was for the hosts to win a throw-in in a promising position, or for a United player to get too close to an opponent, or for one of the officials to make a decision that did not go Hearts' way.
As a show of togetherness, an esprit de corps in the union between fans, players and club, it was remarkable. It made those on the pitch wearing maroon snap into tackles a fraction more quickly, leap that little bit higher to head the ball and hurl themselves more bravely in front of shots. It was not just the hosts who were affected, either. The atmosphere made United - not least spooked goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak - more nervous and caused them to lose their composure, while it also ratcheted up the pressure on referee Steven McLean and his team to arbitrate in Hearts' favour.
In that, at least, the supporters were unsuccessful. The prevailing mood among the Hearts camp after the game was that they had been unjustly denied a victory, Dylan McGowan's effort having been disallowed after Jason Holt was deemed to have impeded Cierzniak and forced him to spill the ball as he attempted to claim a looping Callum Paterson throw-in. "This week I'll say goalkeepers get too much protection," said Jamie MacDonald, the Hearts custodian, smiling. "But next week, when someone challenges me like that, I'll say we don't get enough."
Such levity is usually scarce among teams detached at the bottom of their division but there is a sense that Hearts are relishing such a predicament. This hard-fought point cut their total to minus seven and edged them closer to St Mirren, who will travel to Gorgie this weekend with real trepidation. Failure to reap any reward from tonight's meeting with Aberdeen would mean Danny Lennon's side - that is, if the manager survives such a grim outcome - will arrive in Edinburgh knowing that, should they buckle under the intensity of what promises to be a hugely hostile environment, the gap would be narrowed to just five points.
Certainly, the pressure all appears to be on the Paisley men. When asked if he would watch this evening's game, MacDonald delivered another off-the-cuff bon mot. "I'll probably not be allowed; Corrie's on at the same time," said the Hearts goalkeeper. "But if my missus goes to the toilet or something I might get a hold of the remote and have a wee look."
A wee look at Saturday's game is something from which St Mirren might benefit. For all that Hearts were surprisingly well-organised and robust for a callow collective, they still demonstrated enough frailties to suggest that they can be got at, and perhaps should have been beaten at the weekend. McNamara bemoaned United's poor decision making, with his side more than once failing to exploit a numerical advantage on the counter, but they also spurned seven good openings. It would have been eight, but Nadir Ciftci's effort was disallowed - much to his manager's chagrin - after David Goodwillie was punished for preventing McGowan from blocking Paul Paton's cross.
"We had chances but it was tough with the way they had the crowd behind them," said Stuart Armstrong, the United midfielder. Should the Hearts support maintain the level they showed on Saturday, it is unlikely he will be the last opponent to make such an observation.