Heart of Midlothian ended a run of four consecutive defeats in fine fashion at Tynecastle as goals from Yutaro Oda and Liam Boyce either side of half-time secured a deserved win for the Gorgie club.

Here are three talking points from an enthralling contest in the capital.

Naismith gets his strong start

Steven Naismith stuck with the usual 4-2-3-1 shape but there were two changes from the 1-0 defeat at home to Motherwell a fortnight ago. Stephen Kingsley replaced the injured Alex Cochrane at left-back, while Kenneth Vargas – usually deployed at right wing – came in for Alex Lowry on the left.

The Hearts head coach spoke in the build-up to this contest of wanting to see his side begin games in a stronger fashion and seize the initiative early on. Too many matches this term have been plagued by a sluggish start and ponderous passing and the opening few minutes suggested Hearts were again going to take a while to get into their rhythm.

They would soon hit the right notes, though. A neat exchange between Lawrence Shankland and Boyce around the centre circle sent the latter barreling towards goal, and the Northern Irishman did well to spot the run of Oda down the right. The winger rifled his effort in to hand Hearts the lead in emphatic fashion with 15 minutes on the clock.

It was a vital intervention. Any tension from the home fans in the stands dissipated, and the players shifted the ball about with more confidence and assertion as they took control. Vargas was inches away from doubling his team’s advantage – and notching his first goal in maroon – with a fantastic strike from distance that crashed off the woodwork on the hour-mark before Boyce secured the win with a poacher’s finish a few minutes later.

“Bravery and confidence with the ball is the most important thing for us, I think,” said Naismith. “Each game has small details that are different. We need to trust that we’re good players because when we do that we cause teams problems and have a lot of control in the game.

“That was lacking in [the defeats to] Dundee and Motherwell but today we had it. It could easily have been a nervous game, a nervous start and people not picking the riskier passes or pressing. I’ve been here and if that happens the team can go under but I thought we showed good composure from the first minute.”

Fierce afternoon

These two clubs will both be hoping to be competing for third come the end of the season as direct rivals, so perhaps it was no surprise that neither set of players were shy about leaving one on their opposite number.

The battle in the middle between Peter Haring and Graeme Shinnie was a particularly feisty one. The Hearts man earned an early booking for scything down the Dons captain and less than a minute later, Shinnie responded in kind but managed to avoid a booking.

That back-and-forth appeared to set the tone for both teams. Full-blooded slide tackles were occurring hither, thither and yon, sending players crumbling to the turf. Aberdeen’s Leighton Clarkson and Hearts pair Frankie Kent and Boyce joined Haring in the book in the first half.

The away fans were howling for a penalty when Duk spotted the rampaging run of Shinnie and played the midfielder through, only for Kent to lunge in heavily and win the ball back. The travelling contingent were convinced it was a foul and that it had occurred in the box, but referee Kevin Clancy and VAR were both unmoved.

Haring was brought off early on in the second half, more for his own protection than anything else, but the bookings still steadily accrued. By the time it was all said and done, six players finished with a yellow card – and there could have been even more.

Dons disappoint again

This match was the first of seven in 23 hectic days for Aberdeen, and Barry Robson’s men really required a win to kick off their run. Still without a league win in five attempts this term – and with a daunting midweek trip to Frankfurt looming – the Dons needed to leave Tynecastle with something to show for their exertions to lift the mood around the club.

The equaliser they craved would never arrive, though. Jimmy McGarry tested Zander Clark with a couple of decent efforts at goal during the first half and Bojan Miovski drilled an effort just wide of the far post in the second, but that was as close as the visitors – who now occupy 11th place in the league table and are 11 games without a win at Tynecastle – came to finding the net on an afternoon where they were decidedly second-best.

“When you look at where we were as a club last year ... we've had a difficult start,” said Robson. “I think that's the first time we've had all the players who we've tried to sign all in. You can see a bit of that.

“But listen, even with that, we still need to try and get results. I'm honest enough and smart enough to know that you need results even with the hard start, a lot of away games. We've obviously taken in 13 new players. But all of that doesn't count for much because we need to get results. We need to improve and get better at both ends - and we will.”