When Heart of Midlothian defeated Motherwell in February to make it eight wins in succession, six of those in the league, they sat on 51 points in the Premiership standings. At that point, eclipsing the club's best top-flight points total appeared achievable.

Since the switch to three points being awarded for a victory at the start of the 1994/95 season, Hearts have surpassed the 70-point mark in the Scottish top-flight just once, in 2005/06 when the team split the Old Firm and finished on 74 points.

Following the win over the Steelmen Hearts were averaging 1.96 points per game. If they continued that for the remainder of the season they would equal that 74 figure. Achievable, yes. But it was always going to be a tough ask. They would have had to produce that form in a 12-game period that would include four fixtures against the Old Firm while continuing to perform well against the rest of the league on a regular basis.

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That difficulty has since been proven following the win against Motherwell. Hearts have won one of their last five games in the Premiership. In turn, their points average has dropped to 1.81. Sticking to that average would amass a further 12  points to bring the final total to 68. That would still represent the joint-second highest total from a top-flight Hearts team since 1994/95.

As we can see from the graph below, Steven Naismith's men are on course for one of the best top-flight seasons in the past 30 years. 

In the context of third place within the Scottish Premiership era, it would be an excellent return. The average points total for the team finishing third across 38 games is 64. Only once has a team reached the 70-point mark: Rangers in 2017/18. Hearts are just two points away from eclipsing Aberdeen's 57 earned last year when they overturned the Jam Tarts' lead in the final weeks.

Analysing the run-in, 12 points across the final seven games is more than achievable. In fact, there would be an element of frustration if the team weren't able to reach that tally, producing an inconsistent finish to what has been a productive season.

After a trip to St Mirren, where admittedly the club don't have a good record, Hearts face Livingston at Tynecastle Park before the split.

Currently, it is difficult to predict the fixtures Hearts will play after the split. It is looking like a straight fight between Dundee and Hibs for the final top-six spot.

Of the teams currently in the top six, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Rangers will need two home games and three away fixtures to provide an even 19/19 home and away split. Celtic, St Mirren and Dundee require the reverse. Hibs, however, would come into the split having played 17 at home and 16 away.


If Dundee do win the race for the final spot Hearts would likely travel to Dens Park for a third time. That would be in addition to trips to Kilmarnock and Celtic, while Rangers and St Mirren would come to Tynecastle Park. 

If Hibs were to pip Tony Docherty's men to the top half then it will mean there will likely be a lop-sided home and away split for one or more teams. 

So, what would be required in the final seven games to reach the 68-point mark and what is realistic? Firstly, a third win in a row against Celtic and a second win at Parkhead? Not unrealistic but certainly unlikely. Hearts will need to win at least two of their final three home games, taking their Premiership win tally at Tynecastle Park to 10 for the season.

It would mean winning twice on the road. The most likely avenue for those victories is St Mirren this weekend as well as Dundee (or Hibs) and Kilmarnock. They have already achieved wins at Dens and Rugby Park (as well as Easter Road) this season, while success on Saturday will all but confirm third place and secure a 10th away win.

Now, for the elephant in the room, the club's record in the top six after the split.

Hearts average just 3.5 points from their last 10 appearances in the top six. Last season's six points under Naismith's interim charge was the best return in that time. You have to go back to 2006/07 for the last time the team were able to win more than one match after the split as a top-half team. They have failed to win a single game on three occasions. On seeing those stats laid bare it is easier to understand fan frustration regarding performances at the end of the season. 

The goal for much of the campaign has been to secure third spot and the potential European group-stage football that comes with it. But now the team have got themselves into such a strong position following a superb middle of the season it would be refreshing for the Hearts support if the team was to finish the campaign strongly and perform well after the split, hammering home the fact they are, by far, the third best side in the country.