Alan Maybury believes facing a resurgent Dundee United will provide a stern examination of a revitalised Hibernian.
Hibs enter the weekend's fixtures level on points at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with Celtic. While Hibs have battled for survival in each of the last two seasons United have been consistently challenging at the top of the standings and after a poor start are now seventh in the table, unbeaten in their last four.
"At the end of the season they'll be a lot higher up the league," said Hibs full-back Maybury of Sunday's opponents. "I don't think it's any big surprise that they're starting to pick up."
He added: "They're just starting to get some of their players back from injury and pick up a bit of form - it's come at a bad time for us. We know it's going to be difficult, but it's a big game and a good opportunity for us to try and cement what we're doing."
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven is among those United missed in recent weeks, while further threats from the visitors come in the shape of Johnny Russell, Jon Daly and former Hearts forward Rudi Skacel.
Maybury is set to continue at right-back in place of Tim Clancy (groin) on Sunday and could face Mackay-Steven's trickery. The 34-year-old added: "They're effective in what they do. Jon Daly's a big player for them and then they try to get it out to the old-fashioned wingers.
"In training I'm up against some good players, Leigh Griffiths and Ivan Sproule's pace. I've been around the block a couple of times. I know how to deal with some of them; some of them I just can't catch."
Manager Pat Fenlon's Hibs also seem to have overcome their home struggles, with four wins and two draws from six matches at Easter Road. Maybury, who left St Johnstone last term, signed ahead of the opening home game of the campaign - the 1-1 draw with Hearts in the first capital clash since May's 5-1 William Hill Scottish Cup final loss.
Of the home form, he said: "If nothing else you compete and nine times out of 10 fans accept that. Some days you just won't be good enough, but we felt that put a marker down.
"That was the minimum that was required from then on and confidence builds; confidence can take you a long way in this game."
- Sports & Recreation
- Alan Maybury
- Clydesdale Bank Premier League
- Dundee United