Hibs, Hearts end 116-year Cup final wait
Hearts manager Paulo Sergio insists the fact his side are facing rivals Hibernian in Saturday's Scottish Cup final doesn't give the game greater importance.
While supporters of the rivals are gripped by Scottish Cup fever ahead of the first all-Edinburgh final since 1896, the Portuguese manager has been determined to avoid hysteria and keep his squad calm in the build-up to the Hampden clash.
"For me it's an opponent, it's a game that I want to win like all the others," Sergio said. It's not special because it's Hibs. This is a game that is as important as it was to win against Auchinleck (Talbot, Hearts' fourth-round opponents). If we didn't beat Auchinleck, we would not be here to play this one."
Since Hibs defeated Aberdeen and Hearts knocked out Celtic in the semi-finals, the Scottish capital has been in anticipation of Saturday's showcase final.
But when pressed about the special nature of a fixture last played 116 years ago, Sergio added: "This is a statistic. That doesn't make the game different for me.
"For you, it's huge, it's different. But for us, it's football. Focus on football, focus on the game, don't focus on what is collateral of the main issue. I hope and I believe that at about 1700 on Saturday it's going to be a tremendous day. Before that it's just a normal day.
"I always give 100 per cent in everything I can to prepare for every single game, so in that point of view it's not different. I hope after the game can be a special moment, but before the game and during the game, just focus on football and what we are here doing and forget everything that is around us."
Only Craig Beattie, who scored the winning penalty in the semi-final with Celtic, is struggling with injury. It may yet be Sergio's final match in charge, with the manager set to meet owner Vladimir Romanov for talks about a new contract following the game.
Hibs seek to end century-long drought
Meanwhile, his Hibernian counterpart, Pat Fenlon, has told his Hibs side to seize their chance as they bid to lift the trophy for the first time in 110 years.
After narrowly avoiding relegation from the Scottish Premier League, Fenlon has told his players to show more character against Hearts as they look to end their Hampden hoodoo and win the competition for the first time since 1902.
However, Fenlon, who took charge at Easter Road in November, attempted to downplay the weight of history on Hibs, who are winless in 10 derby attempts since May 2009.
"It's my first attempt to get through the Scottish Cup and we've got to the final," Fenlon said. "It gives us a great opportunity. We're 90 minutes from ending that, but there's a big obstacle in front of us. We've just got to make sure that that's what we focus on and not all the other hype that goes with it.
"We can't change what's gone on previously, but we can change it come Saturday. With cup finals you've got to make sure you compete, you forget the occasion if you can and play the game. You don't need to do too many things differently, just make sure you contribute to your own game.
"I'm looking forward to the game. It was a big relief to make sure we stayed in the league, that's probably where the real pressure was for us. Saturday's a different type of pressure, but something I want to enjoy as well."
Goalkeeper Graham Stack and winger Danny Galbraith are both out through injury.