Manager John McGlynn has warned his Hearts side to be wary of a response from Celtic in Wednesday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Tynecastle.
Despite their Champions League win over Barcelona, Celtic are reeling after Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Inverness, with manager Neil Lennon critical of his side's domestic form and threatening to quit after an altercation with supporters.
The demotion of Rangers to the Irn-Bru Third Division led many to believe the SPL would be a formality for Celtic, but the procession has not materialised and Hearts will be looking to inflict the visitors' fourth loss of the season.
McGlynn does not believe Lennon is under additional strain at Parkhead and is ready for a similar reaction to when Celtic were narrowly beaten in Barcelona and lost to Kilmarnock the following weekend, before bouncing back with an emphatic 5-0 midweek win over St Johnstone.
"I don't think he's under any pressure," McGlynn said. "Celtic are doing the best they've probably done in the Champions League ever; they've picked up more points than anyone would've expected.
"If they've maybe taken their eye off the ball a wee bit in defeats like Saturday, they end up coming out on the Wednesday night and in one of those situations taking five goals off St Johnstone.
"Sometimes it just takes a wee kick up the backside to bring you back down to earth. There's been a reaction to their defeat which will certainly have them fired up.
"When they come to Tynecastle they know they have to be at the top of their game. (The Inverness loss) will reinforce that. That's something we have to be very aware of and be prepared for."
Should ninth-placed Hearts manage to again frustrate Lennon's Celtic and earn a fourth home win of the season, McGlynn's men would climb to within four points. "We'd have probably taken that at the start of the season, four points behind Celtic entering December," McGlynn added.
"We have to win to do that. It could go 10 points, I'm not daft, but we've got an opportunity to close that gap. Everyone would be delighted if we were to do that, because it may well be there's a new leader at the top of the table going into December. It's good for the SPL. It's good there's competition in the SPL."
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- Champions League
- Neil Lennon