New manager Colin Calderwood claims Hibernian must have ambitions to challenge the Old Firm despite the Glasgow clubs' stranglehold on the Scottish game.
Calderwood could not look too far beyond Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Aberdeen after a "whirlwind" few days, which saw the club first make contact with him on Friday before stepping up talks on Sunday and a three-year contract being signed on Monday. However, he saw no harm in setting lofty long-term ambitions despite both Celtic and Rangers going into Sunday's Old Firm derby with perfect records in the SPL after eight games.
"We have got to get as close as we can to the top two and the ultimate achievement is to challenge them," Calderwood said. "It has been done before, some people said it would never get done again, but if you don't have some ambition towards that... I think we have got to take it step by step and get there."
He added: "With the financial situation, you never know. There is an evening out in football."
Only Hearts have split the Old Firm in the last 15 seasons and Hibs have not finished in the top two since 1975, but Calderwood feels the waning financial power of the big two could open the door for a sustained challenge.
Calderwood's immediate goal is to help steady Hibernian's season, although the team did claim only their second win on Saturday when they beat Kilmarnock 2-1 at Easter Road under the stewardship of coaches Alistair Stevenson and Gareth Evans.
Hibs have difficult away games against Aberdeen and Dundee United before former Northampton and Nottingham Forest manager Calderwood experiences his first Edinburgh derby at Easter Road.
"We have got to set our desire to be slightly higher than where we are at the minute," Calderwood said. "But we give the fans what they want in terms of success - there are trophies to be won and there is a position in the league that they would term successful and we'll get as close as we can to that."
Hibs chairman Rod Petrie admitted Calderwood's knowledge of players in England, having worked in all four divisions, was a key factor in him being handed the role. And he responded defiantly when asked whether his new manager would have funds available to strengthen his squad in January.
"Over the last six years, each year we have added to the budget and spent slightly more than we spent the year before," Petrie said. "Our budget is competitive outside of the top two. It's up to us to get as much success as we can with the budget we have available."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.