Cup final is huge for Zaliukas
Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas has declared Saturday's Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park as "the biggest game" in Hearts' history.
While Jambos' manager Paulo Sergio attempted to downplay the significance of his side's opponents in the first all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final since 1896, Zaliukas believes there has been no more important fixture in the club's 138-year history.
"It's the biggest game in the club's history. It's a perfect day," the defender said.
"I wouldn't say anyone is nervous. Everyone is excited and just can't wait for Saturday.
"Everyone is thinking what it's going to be like if we win or if we lose, but everyone is very confident and we're going to go to win.
"Everyone is going to be involved in history."
Even owner Vladimir Romanov, who said his passion for football had declined earlier this season and put Hearts up for sale while limiting his own financial input into the club, will be at Hampden.
Romanov may be tempted to do the pre-match team talk in the dressing room, but Zaliukas insists everyone in the Hearts squad knows what is at stake and rousing speeches will not be necessary.
"We know what we have to do and we're ready," Zaliukas said.
"I don't think a lot has to be said to the team because everyone understands the importance of the game and we're going to be ready for it.
"Everyone is buzzing. Everyone wants to win."
Hearts finished fifth in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, while Hibs' survival was confirmed only in the penultimate round of fixtures as they finished 11th.
Favourites Hearts have won seven in a 10-match unbeaten sequence in the derby, the last Hibs success coming in May 2009.
The maroon half of Edinburgh have long taunted Hibs for their Scottish Cup failure - Hibs last won the cup in 1902 - but many supporters are gripped by fear that the 110-year wait will end on Saturday.
Zaliukas dismissed the recent results and the history.
He said: "Derbies are special games, all the time and just probably we have been better.
"With this, the last three years don't count. It's one day, a bigger day.
"No-one is thinking that we're going to lose and we're very confident."
It is a cosmopolitan affair, but the rivalry at stake is not lost on the players.
Lithuanian Zaliukas is joined in Hearts' first-team squad by players from the Czech Republic, Poland, Spain, Morocco and Uganda, while Hibs have players from Honduras and Gambia in their ranks.
Zaliukas, though, knows all about the intensity of the occasion.
He said: "It's probably a bigger game than playing Celtic or Rangers. It's a derby game. It doesn't matter who is better in the table."
Zaliukas did not hesitate when asked his most memorable derby moment.
It was April 1 2007, the day Hibs were parading their most recent silverware, the League Cup, and Zaliukas scored as the visitors triumphed at Easter Road for the first time in five years.
He said: "We won over there 1-0 and guess who scored?
"Every derby game is like a little present for our fans and for the team and every win is the same."
The major prize, though, is the Scottish Cup trophy.
Hearts won in 1998 and 2006, but the squad has been overhauled since and the current group are determined to finish a campaign which has featured much strife - including four significant wage delays - with silverware.
Zaliukas' central defensive partner Andy Webster missed the 2006 final and was promptly sold after a dispute with the board but returned for a second spell in 2011.
"Six years ago the club won a trophy and all the players are different now and we want to win," Zaliukas added.
"We're all together and we want to win this cup as a team."