Heart of Midlothian head coach Steven Naismith is expecting an "entertaining game" when his side host Hibs in the third Edinburgh derby of the season.

The fixture, one of Scotland's showcase games, has over the years developed a reputation for providing plenty of blood and thunder but not much in the way of the quality you would expect from matches between two of the country's biggest sides. 

The previous encounter was a case in point. A glance at social media as the game progressed didn't paint the game in a good light. While it started with plenty of excitement, with both teams missing early penalties, it became littered with individual errors and a lack of fluency. That could be partly down to the pressure of the fixture and the nerves associated, the subconscious mind not wanting to lose, overpowering the will to win.

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But it is not always the case, as shown by the first meeting of the sides this campaign when it finished 2-2, and there are always plenty of talking points.

"I think the two derbies so far have been entertaining in different ways," Naismith said. "The last one lacked a lot of quality but both teams probably had opportunities to have good attacks. The first one was very open. We probably shot ourselves in the foot with a small period of that.

"It's two teams that want to have possession, two teams that want to attack. I'd imagine it will be an entertaining game."

Neither team can be labeled as reactionary. Both want to be the protagonists when they take the field. Naismith doesn't believe Hibs will take a leaf out of the book of several teams who have come to Tynecastle with a safety-first approach. The strength of Nick Montgomery's side lies in the forward areas.

“We're in a good rhythm with how we prepare and I think we're coming up against a team that's got an identity, a style that they've not veered from,” the Hearts head coach said. “Their formations have changed slightly, but on the whole, they do the same thing. We're quite well prepared.”

He added: "They want to try and have possession, they are really expansive, and they've got pace at the top end of the pitch - they've got quality as well. I don't think it will be much different to what we've seen most of the season from them."

Naismith has spoken of wanting to make it difficult for Hibs from the off with a fast start. Hearts will be looking to score in the first half of a league game for the first time since a 2-0 win over St Mirren before Christmas. He believes they will be aided in how the visitors approach the game and the environment created by a sold-out Tynecastle Park under the lights.

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"A lot of the games recently have been against teams that have sat in, that will be different - Hibs will come to attack and that helps with that," he explained. "It’s making choices when you have the ball and not being safe in possession. You have to have risk to get opportunities and we have done it at right times in the last couple of months but you do need to give the fans something to get behind and make the atmosphere good because it can be an intimidating one and we can use that to our advantage.

"In every game, we need to use that to our advantage because it is a good weapon to have. At times we’ve not managed to do that this season and at other times it’s been good. I’ve experienced it as a player when the crowd has been with you and against you. It definitely is noticeable for players on the pitch."

READ MORE: Why Hearts v Hibs is not on TV - and how it could change (slightly) next season

Despite Liam Boyce, Peter Haring, Barrie McKay, Craig Halkett and Yutaro Oda all missing the game, Hearts still have a competitive squad. But Naismith has no plans for drastic changes following the first defeat in 13 games. 

“The way we've been working is everything as normal,” he said. “In possession, we need to do certain things, there's certain movements we want to happen, and then we need to be good on the ball like we were in the last derby.

"That has probably helped us with our success over the last couple of months that we have a competitive squad. The levels of training and from individuals have been good, there is an element of that but every week that is there, ‘if I’m not performing I’m not going to get selected’."