Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom believes their Ladbrokes Premiership encounter with Rangers will give his new signings a crash course in the extremes of the Scottish top flight.
The Easter Road outfit commenced their league campaign with a 1-0 win over St Mirren, who retained their place in the Premiership through the play-offs.
Now they travel to Ibrox on Sunday to take on Steven Gerrard’s side, who have a title challenge in their sights.
And Heckingbottom feels the differences in their opening two league fixtures perfectly highlights the unique nature of the Premiership.
Heckingbottom said: “It’s one I’ve been looking forward to. I’m glad it comes early because it gives the players we’ve brought in a good experience of this league and what it is.
“St Mirren at home, Rangers away, two opposite ends of the spectrum if you like. See how varied the league is and it will get the message across pretty quickly what this league is about.”
Hibs recorded three draws with Rangers in their four league meetings last season and Heckingbottom is keen to take more points from Gerrard’s men.
But he knows Hibs will need to be on top form following Rangers’ impressive 4-2 away win over Danish outfit FC Midtjylland in a Europa League qualifier.
He said: “What am I expecting? I’m expecting Rangers to be at full throttle. It’s going to be a tough game, a good game and we want to play our part in that and come off with the points, hopefully.
“But if not… come off with a strong performance, put a real shift in and give them things to think about.
“(Rangers have) a real clear way of playing and it’s really similar to when we played them at the back end of last season. Nothing’s changed, pre-season games, European games or the league game.
“I don’t know (if Rangers are stronger) as I didn’t see them at the start of last season but they impressed me at the end of last season and they have picked up where they left off.
“So tactically they are probably in a better place than the start of last season, they’ve got a way they want to play and it’s brought results for them, it’s brought results for them in Europe.”
Heckingbottom is pleased with the business Hibs have done but knows there is room for improvement from his side.
He said: “Yeah we’ve got a better balance to the squad definitely but we’ll be a work in progress.
“If you’re sitting here and saying, ‘Am I happy with the business we’ve done?’. Yes.
“But am I happy with where we are? No, we have to get better. So we need to keep pushing and keep getting better.”
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