Lee Johnson has insisted Hibernian’s heavy defeat to Aston Villa in the first leg of their UEFA Conference League play-off last night won’t have a negative impact on their domestic form - and described Premier League club players as “superhuman”.

Johnson’s men thrashed 5-0 by Unai Emery’s charges at Easter Road after conceding goals to Ollie Watkins, who netted a hat-trick, Leon Bailey and Douglas Luiz and they now have no chance of progressing to the group stage of the competition.

The Englishman felt the visitors had underlined the huge divide between the Premier League down south and the Premiership in this country during the Battle of Britain encounter and expressed hope that his players would learn invaluable lessons.

He also stated that he wanted Hibs to give a better account of themselves in the rematch at Villa Park in Birmingham next week and stressed that being involved in the Conference League in recent weeks had fuelled his desire to get back into the competition next term.

“I’m still proud of the club for being at this level on this stage,” he said. “The reality is we have an English League 1 budget against a fantastic multi-international standard Aston Villa. It was clear there was a gulf in class, I can’t deny that.

“But I hope this experience is a good one, because your lessons can become your teacher. We can grow from having felt the quality of the athleticism, the touch and the tactical work that Villa did tonight.

"Premier League players now are almost superhuman in their athleticism. It's the super elite from all over the world. It was a good experience and I don't think it will affect confidence going into the Livingston game.

"The physical recovery is really key for us because we are a team that needs to use our running power and our physicality at our level to maximise our performances. I think we have a really good, honest bunch of players. I trust them and they give their all every day.” 

Johnson added: "It's been a rollercoaster start to the season and it almost feels like we've been a victim of our own success by coming up against a team of this quality. But at the same time this is what we want. This is an experience that we hope to get again next year in the group stages.

"To do that we have to be on form domestically and fight for those top positions in the table. There are a lot of people at this club who do a lot of work. It's been a challenge in terms of the turnaround and tickets and we're not a club that is over-staffed.

"I want to give credit to the backroom staff - the people in the ticket office, the commercial and media teams and everybody who works so hard to keep this club functioning. They're really important to mention on nights like this."

Hibs have lost their opening two Premiership matches and are currently in second bottom spot in the top flight table and Johnson confessed the goals which Villa let in – Emery’s side scored three headers in the first-half - were a source of frustration and concern to him.

“If you look at the goals we’ve conceded and the types of goals we’ve conceded this season, there have been too many,” he said. “Stopping crosses is a fundamental of defending.

“You’ve got to do more if you’re in that position. If it keeps happening, the next man comes in and get the opportunity to stake a claim for the position.”

Asked about the second leg of the play-off a week today, Johnson said: "I hope we can use it as a learning game. In that sense, the pressure is off because it will take a miracle to win the tie. You never give up, because we don't give up. 

"At the same time, it will be interesting to see if we can play with a little bit more football arrogance, and a little bit more belief now that the pressure is off. I'm used to Villa Park, but I want to see if and how the boys cope because it's another test in our journey, and it's a big journey."