Morton manager Jim Duffy admitted Hibs were operating on another level to his side as they suffered a comprehensive 4-0 loss at Easter Road yesterday.
Goals from Andrew Shinnie, Grant Holt, Jason Cummings and former Ton striker Brian Graham brought the Cappielow club’s unbeaten start to the season to a close while moving Neil Lennon’s men to the top of the table.
Afterwards a magnanimous Duffy paid tribute to the performance of the opposition and confessed his team could not live with them on the day.
But the Cappielow gaffer added there was no shame in that as he doesn’t expect Morton to be the last club to come a cropper in Edinburgh this season.
He told gmfc.net: “We lost to a very good team today, a top-class side, there’s no doubt about it. They had real quality, and not just with the ball but without the ball too.
“I mean, when we got the ball they didn’t give you a minute to breathe. They are really on top of you, and physically they were stronger than us, but they were very good technically as well.
“Hibs have so many options now; you look at the strength in depth on their bench, the players who weren’t even playing and the new signings they’ve made.
“The new goalkeeper they’ve signed has real presence and kicks the ball well, the back four are strong, powerful, athletic, the midfield interchange and the front players can make the difference.
“They deserved to win, there’s no doubt about it and we have to accept that the level Hibs are at is a million miles away from where we are at this moment in time.
“They are at a different level from most clubs in this division. I know they were strong favourites [to win the Championship] and they’ll be even stronger favourites now I’m sure.
“We didn’t play at our best today. That’s the only thing that disappoints me. If you play to your best and you’re beaten by a better team then you get on with it, but we underperformed today while Hibs were at a different level.
“Our players never caved in. They had the right attitude, they worked hard, they kept chasing back even when they made mistakes – but we have to grudgingly accept we were beaten by a better side.
“I don’t think there’s anything the matter with reflecting on that. We’ve got to be realistic and say we aren’t at that level yet and that was evident in the gulf between the two teams.
“But our league isn’t defined by Hibs, our league is defined by another seven or eight teams. So we’ll regroup, get back to work again on Monday and see if we can improve things as we go.
“It’s our first defeat of the season and I don’t think there will be too many teams that come here and pick up points. There will be a lot of teams that will come here and be put to the sword.”
All four of the goals conceded came from close-range headers following deliveries from the wide areas, and Duffy identified this as an area in which Hibs are now a real threat.
He added: “The difference between this team and Alan Stubbs’ team is that, although they still play really good football, they are now dangerous from crosses.
“If you were playing Hibs previously, you might show them wide because with [Jason] Cummings, [Anthony] Stokes and Keatings, you think: ‘Well, we can deal with the crosses.’
“Today, the four goals came from four headers. They put crosses in with pace and purpose, and they’ve got that determination to get on the end of them.
“And it’s not easy to defend those types of situations. You can be as organised as you want, but if somebody whips a ball in with pace and somebody comes across you and redirects it then it’s very difficult to play against.”
Last week, an honest Duffy admitted his side were let off the hook when referee Mat Northcroft blew up for an alleged foul on Derek Gaston just as a Dumbarton shot was sailing into the Ton net.
However, the Cappielow chief felt that fortune balanced out this weekend after striker Holt’s goal was allowed to stand following a challenge inside the six-yard box.
He explained: “I thought it was a free-kick on Gats because he’s got a big lump on his thigh [from] when he got challenged – that tightened right up and eventually he couldn’t move, run or kick the ball, so we had to take him off – and I think he had the ball in his hands.
“I don’t think it had an affect on the game overall in terms of who would have won, but if you’re 1-0 compared to 2-0 it’s a big difference in terms of going in at half-time and keeping it nice and tight.
“The second goal gave Hibs that kind of calmness, if you want to call it that. It allowed them to be calm in the second half and to keep playing.
“I do think it was a free-kick but I’m certainly not going to stamp my feet about it because sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t: last week we got a break and today we didn’t.”
Images: David Bell