HEARTS today have some alternative West Lothian questions to answer.

The name of Livingston FC is writ large in the career of Neil Alexander after the goalkeeper picked up the old Second and First Division titles during a transformative three-year period with the club at the turn of the millennium before he jumped jump ship to Cardiff City just as the Almondvale side stormed the SPL.

But for all the fond memories he has of the place, the former Rangers and Crystal Palace custodian's most recent interaction with the club was somewhat negative, watching from the stands as his old club ousted an admittedly under-strength Hearts XI from the Petrofac Cup by a 4-1 scoreline. No wonder then that Alexander knows the SPFL Championship leaders can take nothing for granted when his past life comes back into view once more at Tynecastle for today's live TV encounter.

"I had a great and very successful three years there," recalled Alexander of his time under Jim Leishman at Almondvale . "I won two championships, so they were great times. They then went on to the SPL and have come back down, but they are still a great club with great people surrounding them.

"One or two are still there behind the scenes, although I didn't recognise too many when we went back in the cup. But I was very impressed with Livingston - they passed the ball well, tried to play the game the right way and scored a few good goals. We'll have to match them all over the pitch, because this is a big game for us as we try to keep our momentum going."

While the 3-0 midweek League Cup reverse at Celtic Park may not have been entirely unexpected, the defeat had a self-inflicted nature to it. Jamie Walker spurned a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time and Osman Sow blasted a penalty over the bar at one end, only for the defence to concede a penalty of their own which was followed by an Adam Eckersley own goal at the other.

With Rangers and Hibernian not in action until tomorrow night, Hearts have a chance to forget about their frustrations and put the hammer down at the top of the table. Alexander said: "We need to get the Celtic result out of our system and move on. We always knew Sunday was more important, we want to continue our league form. Celtic was a one-off, a great occasion for us. We played some good stuff at times and were unlucky. It was a game of two penalties. But we've got to get over it because the league is the most important thing."

Victory today would move Hearts 13 points ahead of their city rivals Hibs, but Alexander is reluctant to rule out the Easter Road club as title challengers.

"I don't view it as a two-horse race," he said. "That's being disrespectful to some of the other teams. It's a marathon not a sprint and other sides are going to get better. We need to match that and make sure we remain consistent. We couldn't have got off to a better start, of course. Dumbarton was a bit disappointing, but there is a lot of belief in our squad.

"I think Hibs will mount a challenge, definitely. They have been in transition. Over the summer they didn't have a settled team. They also have a new manager so I think week by week they will get better and will prove to be more of a challenge than they are at the minute. They will give us a run for our money."

Stewart Fisher