THE ramifications for Hearts from next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final with Hibernian stretch far beyond an extension of the city bragging rights.

The feelgood factor around Tynecastle is already rocketing on the back of Saturday’s 3-1 win over their old rivals that confirmed what had effectively been universally accepted for months – that Robbie Neilson’s side will definitely finish third in their first season back in the Premiership after a season out of the division.

It could get better still, however. A win at Hampden on Saturday will not only take Hearts a step closer to lifting the Scottish Cup for the first time in a decade but will guarantee them European group stage football until Christmas next season, either in the Europa League – if they win a play-off – or its little brother, the Conference League, if they don’t.

Hearts are a fan-owned, financially-prudent club but the injection of several million unbudgeted pounds would still be hugely welcome and would supply them with the resources to move them even further away as the undoubted best of the rest behind Celtic and Rangers.

That’s a lot to think about ahead of a cup semi-final which is probably why Stephen Kingsley believes it’s probably better that he and his Hearts team-mates don’t pore over the permutations for too long this week.

Footballers can only control what happens on the pitch and Kingsley, scorer of Hearts’ second goal on Saturday, hopes they can replicate their performance in the last hour or so when they were utterly dominant against a Hibs side chasing, and failing to land, a place in the top six.

“For us as players we can’t get caught up in how big it is,” said the defender. “We know how big it is, but we just really need to focus on giving a performance.

“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to do as well as we could in the league, finish third and have a cup run.

“We didn’t want to come up and consolidate Premiership football. That’s not what we wanted to do. We felt we had a team here that could go and achieve special things and thankfully, for the most part we’ve managed to do that this season, but it’s not finished yet.

“We’ve now got a great opportunity next week to go and build on the performance from Saturday and get into a final and you never know what happens in a final.

“This is a massive week for us. Saturday was just the first part of it, so next week it goes again, and we can try to finish this season off really strong and then look forward to next season.”

Hearts were stunned by the loss of an early goal given to Drey Wright but rebounded strongly and ran out comfortable winners thanks to Kingsley’s strike and a double from Andy Halliday. Kingsley, though, knows that will count for nothing come the first whistle at Hampden.

“We knew we were off it at the beginning. I think that goal did wake us up. We eventually started to come out and dominate the game.

“It’s going to be even bigger at Hampden next week so we can’t afford to start like that again, so hopefully we can put that wrong to right.”

Hibernian manager Shaun Maloney felt his team’s second-half performance had been unacceptable ahead of what is shaping up to be the most pivotal week in the club’s season.

Having failed to claim a berth in the top six, the Scottish Cup is their only chance to salvage something from the wreckage of this campaign but Paul Hanlon accepts they will need to perform substantially better than they showed for large spells at Tynecastle.

“I said [after the game] that we need to suffer a bit,” said the defender. “I especially want the younger lads who are here to feel how sore it is so that we know how big next week is.

“We need to come to the middle of next week and really focus on what we need to do better going into the semi-final. If we are going to win that one we need to be a hell of a lot better than we were today.

“Hearts got themselves in a good position where they were in control. We didn’t do enough to cause more of a threat and maybe get it back to 3-2 with 10 minutes left when there was still a chance of getting a draw.”

Hibs’ eight-point lead over St Johnstone in 11th ought to spare them any relegation anxiety although they’ve been in this movie before and it didn’t turn out so well that time.

“It’s not where we wanted to be but we are going to have five highly competitive games from now until the end of the season and we need to be ready for them all,” added Hanlon.