After another fruitless trip to Easter Road Motherwell fans trudged away disappointed that we failed to match up to our opponents. Still, it is a measure of our recent great form that any could grumble as the top six challenge fades.
Seven wins from the last ten lifted the gloom of December with a remarkable transformation that has turned our season. That expectations were raised to over ambitious levels was understandable but Saturday offered a dose of realism.
None can question the quality offered by our young prospects but we have to accept the bumps that come on the way as they develop. Opposition managers take note of our style and take measures to counter. Hibs won the contest not only because of their attacking play but also because they were able to limit ours. We were a bit below par while they were on form.
With three games left before the split (St Johnstone h, Aberdeen a, Rangers h) we still have a slim chance to catch Hibs. Their fixtures (Livingston a, Kilmarnock h, Hearts a) are by no means straightforward but the comfort of a five point gap should see them over the line.
The upcoming international break will give some rest and recovery time for most of the squad although for the four U21 picks a trip to Marbella beckons for the friendly matches against Mexico and Sweden.