Aaron Hughes returned to the Hearts starting line-up with a solid display in Saturday’s entertaining 0-0 draw with Aberdeen in front of a bumper crowd at BT Murrayfield.
The centre-half returned to Hearts' starting line up and played his third game in a week following his World Cup Qualifier heroics with Northern Ireland to record his third clean sheet on the bounce.
Playing under new manager Craig Levein for the first time, the ex-Newcastle man felt there were a lot of positives to take from the dominant performance, despite having to setlle for a share of the spoils.
“It’s just one game but there’s a lot of positives to take out of it,” said the Northern Ireland stalwart. “Thursday was the only real day we had a chance to work on things after everyone came back from international duty.
“So I think the initial response from the lads to take on as much as possible was really good, and it certainly gives us a really good platform to build on.
“We have set a standard now we have to hit every week,” he continued. “There’s no point doing it in a one-off game and not doing it again for another five games.
“So that’s the most important thing for us — to take all the positives from that. There are still little things I am sure we can get better at.
“But the amount of positives that came out of that game, if we take that forward it will hopefully be a good season for us.”
When asked what difference Levein had made to the squad since taking the reins at Tynecastle for the first time in over a decade, Hughes revealed a change in mentality within the dressing room.
Hailing the manager as being a man with a ‘real presence’, he stated that if the side focused on high performance levels, they would start to earn maximum points from their future outings.
“It’s been a subtle difference, really, little things here and there,” he explained. “It’s getting that feeling of being hard to beat back again.
“It’s making sure, from a defender’s point of view, that when we’re attacking we need to be on the front foot and make that first contact so we stay on the front foot and stop them from counter-attacking.”
“He has just been very clear and concise and to the point. Craig has a real presence about him. It’s only been a couple of days but that’s how it has been so far. And so far so good.
“If you focus a lot beforehand on just the result you maybe don’t know what you are going to get. If you focus on the performance you are more likely to get a good result from it.
“That’s what we spoke about before the game. We obviously spoke about little technical details through the game but first and foremost we knew we needed a good performance, and but for their keeper we’d be sitting here with the three points.”