SMALL changes by Craig Levein are making a big difference at Hearts, according to midfielder Don Cowie.

The director of football was back in the dugout for the first time on Saturday in his expanded role following the departure of head coach Ian Cathro. The sides drew

0-0 at Murrayfield, Hearts’ temporary home while Tynecastle’s main stand is being refurbished, but only an inspired performance by Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis kept the home side at bay.

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Asked about the changes he has noticed since Levein took over, Cowie said: “It’s small things, but if you put them all together they can make a big difference.

“There’s a real respect there towards him from the players. You know if you’ve got that starting strip you need to work hard or you’ll lose it. He made that point right from day one. You saw players really putting the graft in. It was just trying to get that wee bit of quality.

“Aberdeen have started this season really well, off the back of two or three very good seasons, so we knew it was going to be tough.

“It was hot, so it was hard. It was just a case of staying in the game and making it difficult for them. We did that, then the fitness – which a lot of people have questioned – showed in the end and we looked really strong.”

Aberdeen remain unbeaten after five games and are behind Premiership leaders Celtic only on goal difference.

Manager Derek McInnes described Lewis’s contribution as “his best this season”, adding: “There were

a number of games last year when he made the difference between getting one point and all three.

“His concentration is so good, he fills the goal brilliantly, he seems to have the calmness and assurance that top keepers have.”