THE comings and goings at Pittodrie and Ibrox in the past month or so have been widely viewed as being crucial to the chances of both Aberdeen and Rangers finishing runners-up in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Can Niall McGinn and Michael Devlin improve Derek McInnes’s side significantly in the remaining games of the season? Or will Jason Cummings, Greg Docherty Sean Goss, Russell Martin and Jamie Murphy give Graeme Murty’s team the edge? Debate has raged.

The performances of the two fierce rivals going forward certainly promise to make for compelling viewing.

But could the new arrivals at Easter Road in recent weeks enable Hibernian to leapfrog the pair of them and end up in second spot in their first season back in the top flight?

Neil Lennon’s men are eight points behind McInnes’s charges, who currently occupy that position in the league table, and have struggled to display the same sort of consistency this term.

Their problem is the exact opposite of the opponents they will have to depose as the best of the rest. They have no difficulty, as was seen once again on Saturday when they beat Rangers away for the second time since winning promotion, lifting themselves in the big games.

It is against smaller clubs they often disappoint and drop needless points to frustrate their supporters.

But if, and it is a big if given their Jekyll and Hyde nature, they can continue to perform as well as they did at the weekend, when they won 2-1 away thanks to a first-half John McGinn strike and a second-half Jamie MacLaren penalty, then they can certainly get themselves in the mix.

The fact they triumphed in Govan once again without six important first team players Brandon Barker, who hobbled off injured early on, David Gray, Paul Hanlon, Darren McGregor, Vykintas Slivka and Steven Whittaker, underlines just how well Lennon has recruited in the January transfer window. Half of his side was missing and they coped superbly in this encounter.

Scott Allan, who has arrived on loan from Celtic until the summer, slotted back into the Hibs side as if he had never been away and provided creativity going forward while Florian Kamberi, who has joined on a temporary deal from Grasshoppers in his native Switzerland, added a real physical dimension to their play up front.

They would also appear to have an exceptional youngster coming through in young Ryan Porteous. The 18-year-old was only given the nod to start in front of a crowd of 49,986 due to that lengthy injury list.

But he was one the visitors’ most impressive performers. And there were a few. The way the centre half coped with the physicality of what was a full-blooded duel was startling

Porteous certainly feels that Hibs will be better in the remaining Premiership games than they have been as a result of the strengthening his manager has done. “We’ve brought in a lot of good players,” he said.

“There is a high calibre of player here and we’ve improved the squad. We’re definitely targeting second place.

“There have been a lot of games where we’ve not taken our chances but on Saturday we took them and got what we deserved.”

Rangers, who started new acquisitions Martin, Murphy and Goss and brought on Cummings and Docherty, recovered well from a poor start and had by far the better of the second half.

They deserved to pull level when the impressive deep-lying central midfielder Goss whipped a free-kick beyond Ofir Marciano. That should have earned them a draw.

Only a nonsensical challenge by James Tavernier on Allan in the Rangers area, which referee Willie Collum rightly awarded a spot kick for, little more than a minute later denied the home team a point at the end of an engrossing encounter in Glasgow that was a fine advertisement for Scottish football.

Martin, who was helpless to prevent McGinn from picking up the ball in the centre circle, advancing upfield and lashing a left foot shot beyond Wes Foderingham for the opener, stressed that it will take time for the side to gel.

The vastly-experienced Scotland internationalist is hopeful his team, who face Partick Thistle at Firhill tomorrow evening, can recover from the painful and avoidable reverse immediately and claw back the gap on Aberdeen in second place to just three points.

“We are a new team really,” said the central defender. “There has been a lot of new signings and the manager hasn’t been in his job for too long. We are a work in progress. But you haven’t got too much time at this football club. You need to keep winning when you’re working.

“We knew we had a big chance there to gain some ground on Celtic and we didn’t take it. We let Hibs get a bit closer to us. Now it is about how we bounce back on Tuesday.

“We have to make sure we pull away from Hibs again and make sure we are in a position where we can overtake Aberdeen at some point.”

Rangers will have to do far better from kick-off going forward in order to do both.