Davie Martindale, the Livingston manager, described Tynecastle as being akin to a second home in the days building up to this clash with Hearts.

Living only 15 minutes away, Martindale regularly takes in games and also frequents the stadium’s restaurant for Sunday roasts.

Given the manner of his side’s defeat in Gorgie yesterday, Martindale has probably been left sick of the sight of the stadium.

Hearts - with 72 per cent of the possession - delivered an imperious performance and scored three unanswered goals. Two arrived before the break, a sublime strike from Michael Smith was followed up by a Liam Boyce penalty.

Alex Cochrane added a third in the second half to give Hearts a win that propelled Robbie Neilson’s side up to second in the Premiership above city rivals Hibernian - for at least 24 hours.

“I was really pleased with the way we played. We’ve been like that in the majority of games we’ve played this season. Today was a day that the majority of things we’ve been working on came to fruition.

“Livingston have had tough games – Sunday Wednesday Saturday, against Celtic, Rangers and Hearts. 

“So we knew it would be important to bring energy that would allow us to dominate the game. I think we’ve a decent squad here now. All in all, it’s been a good day.”

In performance where there was not a single Hearts player under par, winger McKay - in only his second start - and dynamic midfielder Cammy Devlin - on his full debut - were the standouts.

“Barrie’s performance was the reason we brought him here,” added Neilson. 

“We’ve got Barry, Gary Mackay-Steven, Ben Woodburn, Jamie Walker and Josh Ginnelly, so that keeps everyone fresh and ready to go. He did well.

“Cammy’s another piece in the jigsaw; he’s 23, he’s got energy, pace, mobility and he can deal with the ball.” 

Perhaps buoyed by the shock victory over Celtic on their last league outing, Livingston manager Martindale paid little regard to his team’s woeful record at Tynecastle by opting for two in attack, Andrew Shinnie and Odin Bailey.

However, such was Hearts' dominance in possession, that the pair invariably found themselves being dragged back into their own half in a bid to stifle incessant Hearts’ attacks.

Livingston were certainly not going to make lift easy for them, this is a team built on a well-earned reputation for being hard to break down.

There was a chance to test Livingston goal Max Stryjek after 24 minutes with a free-kick from just outside the area. However, Stephen Kingsley - the scorer of a stunning set-piece in last weekend’s draw at Ross County - saw his effort come back off the wall.

The opening goal was to arrive just 60 seconds later, however, and it was a great effort. Barrie McKay left Adam Lewis in his wake on the right flank and found Cochrane with a deep pass.

Cochrane cushioned the ball back for Smith and the wing-back lashed a first time left-footed drive high into the net past the despairing Stryjek.

Having defended fairly comfortably up until that point, Livingston were left collectively deflated by that strike.

A near sell-out Tynecastle crowd demanded more goals and Hearts duly obliged in the 33rd minute.

This time it came from the penalty spot. Beni Baningime went down rather theatrically following a trip by Ben Williamson but referee Gavin Duncan seemed certain there was enough contact.

Boyce collected his ninth goal of the season with a calm finish from 12 yards, sending Stryjek the wrong way.

Before the half was out, Stryjek made sure his team were only facing a two-goal deficit at the interval after palming a stinging Smith half-volley over the bar.

It was no surprise when Martindale used the recess to make changes. Off went Lewis and Williamson for former Hibs midfielder Stephen Omeonga and Jackson Longridge.

The half-time break affected Hearts’ intensity but they were still the team on the offensive. 

Stryjek was called up again to acrobatically push a Kingsley free-kick behind for a corner before McKay was then denied by the Pole following a stray pass by Ayo Obileye.

There was to be a third goal in the 65th minute, however. McKay, who was given a standing ovation when he was replaced later in the game, punched a low cross across the goal and Cochrane was left with a simple tap in at the back post.

Martindale admits his team were running on empty after facing draining games against Celtic and Rangers in the past seven days.

“It was a tough one, I’m not going to sit here and tell lies,” said Martindale. 

“I think you could see that the last two games have caught up on us. I’m not using that as an excuse but I think it played a big part in how we approached the game.

“We were very passive and quite lethargic and we gave away possession too easily.”