Martin Boyle's early goal gave Hibs a 1-0 victory over PAOK in Swolgen on Saturday afternoon. The Greek champions were expected to provide a sterner test than Edinburgh City and MSV Duisburg, who Hibs defeated on Saturday and Wednesday respectively and they did, but Hibs put in a fine defensive performance, limiting their opponents to a handful of chances with Josef Bursik in the first half and Jojo Wollacott in the second pulling off strong saves to keep Hibs ahead. 

Hibs started strongly while PAOK struggled to get going, and Boyle and Vente looked sharp as they hounded the defence. They reaped the rewards just five minutes into the game when Boyle pounced as goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski dithered with a passback and as the Croatian internationalist attempted to clear it he only succeeded in hitting the ball off Boyle and into the net. It was fortuitous, yes, but no less than Hibs deserved after their strong start.

Boyle had a second chance moments later that he hit straight at Kotarski while Warren O'Hora forced a fine save from the 'keeper with a powerful header and after that PAOK settled into the game and began to limit Hibs' chances. 

But bar an offside goal and a handful of half-chances, PAOK failed to really test Hibs and the Easter Road side held on for a third friendly win inside a week.

Five at the back

Head coach David Gray has been consistent in his messaging about being flexible with his tactics and formations and after opting for a 4231 against Edinburgh City and MSV Duisburg, he shuffled things and went with a 532 against PAOK, pre-empting a sterner test from the Greek champions. 

Gray went with Josef Bursik in goals; Chris Cadden, Lewis Miller, Marvin Ekpiteta, Warren O'Hora, and Jordan Obita in defence; Nathan Moriah-Welsh and Joe Newell in midfield with Josh Campbell slightly ahead of them, and Martin Boyle and Dylan Vente in attack. 

It's interesting that Gray appears to want to play with a full-back when going with a back three to give him that flexibility and ability to switch things up without necessarily making a substitution. 

It's not hard to imagine Gray opting for a similar set-up in certain games throughout the season given the success he had in this game and what was particularly notable was how comfortable the defence looked in a different set-up at the back, which bodes well for that flexibility. 

Even the subs were filling different positions. Rory Whittaker played left-wingback, Kanayo Megwa played at left-sided centre-back and right-wingback, and Rocky Bushiri shuffled from right-sided centre-back to left-sided centre-back. Now that's flexibility. 

Blunt in attack

It was an impressive win in isolation but also an impressive win at the end of a tough week with triple sessions on some days. 

But, like Wednesday, it became apparent how badly Hibs need reinforcements in the final third. It's something the club are working on and David Gray has already stressed the importance of getting the best out of the players currently at the club, but once Boyle was taken off Hibs lacked a bit of pace in the final third - although it would be fair to point out that once Hibs had made several subs, they lost a bit of cohesion as is natural, and once PAOK had found their rhythm they 

Boyle and Vente did dovetail well in the first half and Josh Campbell, playing as the ten, managed to get forward and support them on occasion, but a few more bodies in attack could really help push the team on. 

The defence

Three clean sheets in a week, albeit in friendlies against varying levels of opposition, is a far cry from the Hibs team that was shipping goals with alarming ease last season. Warren O'Hora and Marvin Ekpiteta haven't played together much but they complement each other well and looked as comfortable in a back three as they did in a four-man defence. Lewis Miller worked well as the right-sided centre-back in the first half and even when Hibs changed up the defence in the second half the replacements - Rocky Bushiri, Riley Harbottle, Kanayo Megwa, and Rory Whittaker - simply picked up where their predecessors had left off. 

Gray did say after taking charge of the 3-0 victory over Motherwell that he wanted to make Hibs hard to beat. On this week's evidence, that goals against column could be looking a bit healthier this season - particularly with Bursik, who will be the first-choice goalkeeper, looking comfortable in the first half. 

What next?

Hibs remain in the Netherlands until Monday, when they fly back to Scotland and continue their preparations for the trip to Elgin City on Saturday, when the season proper starts.

Previous Premier Sports Cup group stages have been sticky at times for Hibs but Gray will be desperate to avoid that and continue his winning run in the north-east. 

He will have seen enough this week to give him an idea of the best starting line-up plus subs to ensure the best chance of a winning start to the League Cup campaign - a trophy he firmly believes Hibs have a chance of winning.