This friendly will have proved almost as heartening for Hibernian’s former manager as their current one.

Alan Stubbs, the man who guided the club to their first Scottish Cup triumph since 1902 last term before joining Rotherham United, returned to Easter Road for the first time since departing, taking up a watching brief on behalf of his new side.

Not only did he see his former charges, for whom he retains a genuine affection, turn in a fine performance against Birmingham City, but he will have witnessed plenty of potential frailties in one of his new SkyBet Championship rivals.

James Keatings scored the only goal of the game on the hour-mark as the home side - who made ten changes from the team which defeated Brondby 1-0 before exiting the Europa League on penalties - dominated in Leith.

Martin Boyle also struck the bar, with the only disappointment to proceedings coming when Hibs manager Neil Lennon confirmed attacker Danny Handling - who didn’t feature yesterday - will be out for up to six weeks with knee cartilage damage.

“To go out there and stake their claim for a place - that was the challenge we threw down to them at the start of the game and none of them disappointed,” lauded Lennon.

“I’m really pleased. I got everything I wanted from it. The condition of the players looks really good and the football was great. It was a very high standard.

“I hope it will be a busy week in terms of getting people in - but I’ll be loathe to take players out after what I saw against Birmingham.”

Boyle and Danny Carmichael both stung the palms of Kuszcak, before the Poland internationalist made a magnificent reflex stop with his legs to deny the hosts a deserved opener when Fontaine rose highest to meet an Alex Harris corner.

Birmingham emerged from the interval with renewed impetus as former Hibee Clayton Donaldson and Jacques Maghoma both fired narrowly off target.

However, that would prove a false dawn for the Blues outfit as Hibs claimed the lead on the hour-mark, with Boyle slipping the ball inside the box to Keatings, who spun on a sixpence before lashing a fine finish into the roof of the net.

Keatings almost returned the favour when he found Boyle with a deep cross, only for the former Dundee man to head against the bar.

HIBERNIAN: Virtanen, Dunsmore (McGeouch 45), Forster, Fontaine, Crane, Harris, Martin, Stanton, Carmichael (Cummings 72), Boyle (Insall 83), Keatings. Subs not used: Laidlaw, Hanlon, Allan.

BIRMINGHAM CITY: Kuszcak, Spector, Shotton (Caddis 60), Morrison (Robinson 60), Grounds, Gleeson, Tesche (Davis 60), Solomon-Otabor (Vaughan 60), Fabbrini (Shinnie 60), Maghoma (Adams 72), Donaldson (Arthur 83). Subs not used: Legzdins, Dacres-Cogley.

Ref: S Finnie