Substitute Josh Campbell notched a dramatic late winner as we opened the new cinch Premiership campaign with three points following victory over St Johnstone in Perth.
We were impressive throughout the 90 minutes and completely dominated the game in the summer sunshine.
We could, and perhaps should, have won by a bigger margin however that mattered little in the end as we got our desired outcome.
St Johnstone played the final 30 minutes with ten men after Murray Davidson’s red card and that appeared to work against us as the home side flooded their defence.
Backed by an incredible support, we pushed to the very end and got our just rewards when Campbell popped up with the winning goal in the dying moments.
Over 3,000 travelled from Edinburgh to back the boys in this afternoon’s contest as skipper David Marshall recovered from illness last weekend to lead out the boys in their new Cabbage kit.
Marijan Čabraja and Élie Youan both made their debuts after their work permits were approved last week and there was a first start for Jair Taveres.
We welcomed Jake Doyle-Hayes and Demetri Mitchell back from injury and the pair were amongst the substitutes, while Chris Cadden recovered from a knock to start.
St Johnstone lined-up with three former Hibees in their starting XI: Drey Wright, Melker Hallberg and Jamie Murphy.
Both teams suffered disappointing campaigns last season and were desperate to get off to a winning start this year.
We started very brightly and put the hosts under early pressure with Adam Montgomery fortunate not to concede a second-minute penalty for pulling down Elias Melkersen on the edge of the box.
Moments later a lobbed ball forward saw the Norwegian get in between Alex Mitchell and Remi Matthews however, his header dropped wide of goal.
We kept up the early pressure and on eight minutes Youan linked well with Ewan Henderson on the right flank before delivering a tempting low cross into the middle that no one gambled on.
Saints managed to clear it but only as far as Nohan Kenneh who struck a fine rising effort from 20 yards that fizzed over the crossbar.
We were pressing high up the park and that was allowing us to gain possession of the ball deep in St Johnstone’s territory.
When in possession, we were moving the ball quickly on the deck and our quick movement caused the hosts a lot of problems.
We should have opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Čabraja whipped in a wonderful delivery from the left that picked out the late run of Henderson in at the back post and with the goal at his mercy, the midfielder screwed his volley wide of the target.
It was virtually one-way traffic, and we again went close when Joe Newell split the home defence with a fine through ball that allowed Jair to gather on the left; the winger cut inside both Mitchell and Ryan McGowan before shooting just over Matthews’ crossbar.
Despite a dominant first half showing we were unable to turn our possession and opportunities into something more tangible and Callum Davidson’s side were relieved to go into the interval on level terms.
Saints had defended resolutely but had toiled against the pace and momentum of our attacks as we pushed forward quickly and in numbers.
That said, St Johnstone had an opportunity early into the second period when former Hibees Wright and Murphy combined before the latter headed wide of goal.
At the other end Henderson’s shot was blocked by the arm of Montgomery but there was little the Saints player could do to get out of the way of the point-blank effort and referee, Euan Anderson, correctly waved play on.
We kept going and went close when Čabraja wayward shot was deflected towards goal by Youan and just over the Matthews’ crossbar.
Just before the hour mark St Johnstone were reduced to ten men when Davidson slid in and caught Ryan Porteous late. After consultation with his assistants, referee Anderson issued the red card.
In some ways St Johnstone going down to ten men worked against us as the home side changed to a back five and flooded their defence.
We kept pressing and Henderson fired over with a snapshot as we again went close without testing Matthews.
On 66 minutes a rare St Johnstone counter attack concluded with Graham Carey powerful drive from 22 yards forcing Marshall into a diving save at his far post.
That proved to be brief respite for the home defence as we returned to the attack and when Newell’s header back across goal on 73 minutes beat Matthews, Mitchell put his body on the line (literally) to clear before Christian Doidge could score.
It appeared that we were not going to get our just rewards as the game entered the closing moments goalless however, with just 15 seconds of normal time left, substitute Campbell headed in at the back post from Henderson’s corner kick to earn a deserved victory.
St Johnstone: Matthews, Wright, McGowan, Mitchell, Considine, Montgomery, Davidson, Hallberg (Brown 85’), Carey, Murphy (MacPherson 60’), Bair (May 60’). Substitutes not used: Parish, Kucheriavyi, Mahon, Steven, Ballantyne, O’Halloran.
Hibernian: Marshall, Cadden (Campbell 77’), Rocky, Porteous, Cabraja, Kenneh (Doyle-Hayes 88’), Newell, Melkersen (Doidge 69’), Henderson, Jair (Mitchell 69’), Youan. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Miller, Bojang, McGregor, McClelland.
Referee: Euan Anderson.