CRAIG Gordon was only restored to the Scotland side this month because David Marshall, who had previously been in possession of the No1 jersey, has not been featuring for Derby County.

Yet, when the national team take to the field to play Israel in their next Qatar 2022 qualifier at Hampden next month Gordon will, barring illness or injury, be in the starting line-up due to his form, not by default.

Both keepers were inspired in the first Edinburgh derby of the 2021/22 campaign at Tynecastle yesterday and the final scoreline seemed kind of appropriate.

But Hearts captain Gordon, who was named Man of the Match at the end of 90 frenetic minutes, probably just eclipsed Matt Macey of Hibernian with his performance.

His saves from Martin Boyle shortly before half-time and from Kyle Magennis in the second-half ultimately ensured the home side drew the match, picked up a point and maintained their unbeaten Premiership run.

Boyle and Magennis’s attempts were both destined to finish in the bottom left corner of his goal. Both were pushed past the post by his fingertips. It was vintage Gordon.

The 38-year-old had been excellent for Hearts in the opening games of the 2021/22 season when the Scotland squad for the Group F triple header against Denmark, Moldova and Austria was named last month.

However, would Steve Clarke have selected him if Marshall, who had started in all three Euro 2020 group games in June, been playing? It is doubtful given how loyal he is to his men.

If the former Celtic player, who has not even been included in a match day squad at Derby by his manager Wayne Rooney this term, does somehow succeed in getting some game time in the coming weeks he will be doing very well to reclaim his position in the national team given how well his compatriot is currently faring.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was once again effusive in his praise of his evergreen skipper. But Jack Ross, his Hibs counterpart, was every bit as complimentary. That told a story.

Ross was certain that Magennis had broken the deadlock after he got on the end of a Kevin Nisbet cutback in the Hearts penalty area and paid tribute to Gordon for the high standard of his display.

“From the angle I was at in the technical area, I thought that one was in,” he said.  “I don’t think Kyle caught it really cleanly, but the angle I’m at it was going in. 

“Listen he has done that countless times throughout his career, Craig. I think he is in a really good vein of form. But I’m sure Robbie will point to some of the saves Matt made as well. They were of equally high quality.”

Macey was indeed none too shabby either. He denied Gary Mackay-Steven twice in the space of a minute in the second-half, first after the winger had been sent through on his goal by Ben Woodburn and then when his opponent tried his luck from long-range, and tipped a Paul Hanlon header that was arching into his own goal over the crossbar.

Ross could easily have gone out and signed another experienced player in his position when Ofir Marciano departed at the end of last season. But he kept faith in the former Arsenal kid and has been rewarded for doing so.

“Matt has really grown into the role of an established No1,” he said. “That’s why he came to the club, to try and do that. 

“The performances and results we have achieved with him in the team have been outstanding, going right back to the cup games of last season.  He played a big part in us taking something from the game today.” 

This was about as entertaining a goalless draw as you could see. It was the first Edinburgh derby played in front of fans in 18 months and both sets of supporters enjoyed the occasion. There may not have been any goals for them to celebrate. But the spectacle did not disappoint.

Hearts and Hibs both passed up the chance to leapfrog Rangers, who had moved into first place in the cinch Premiership with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph over St Johnstone in Perth on Saturday, at the top of the table with a win.

But these city rivals will not be sliding down the league any time soon. They both have the ability, attitude and the strength in depth required to maintain their positive starts to the 2021/22 season. Ross confessed he was disappointed to surrender first place.

“We are trying to create a culture where we are not satisfied with going anywhere and not winning,” he said. “We’ve shown that over the last season and a bit now. We had to stand up against a good team today in a tough environment and produce a performance that, in large parts, I was really pleased and proud of. 

“I think now we are 43 league games consecutive we have never been out of the top four. So all of last season, for 38 games, we never came out of that top four. We have now started the season and it’s very early and I accept that. But you don’t do that unless you are a team good enough to challenge.”

Neilson said: "This is where we want to be. We've only played five games, but we’ve played Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibs, three of the top four from last season, and we're undefeated and sitting joint-second. We need to carry that on from here.”