It's impossible to envisage David Gray strutting the corridors of the Hibernian Training Centre, chest puffed out, tracksuit immaculate, and extolling the virtues of 'keeping it tight at the back', because that's not the way he conducts himself.

But it would be hard to argue with him if he did. 

Four times now he has stepped up to hold the fort while chaos ensues around him. He has taken charge of a national cup final against Ange Postecoglou's Celtic, and ensured his charges put up a fight. He has led Hibs into a European dead-rubber against Aston Villa at Villa Park and restored a modicum of pride to a side turned over in devastating fashion the week before - and then recorded a 2-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie three days later.

READ MORE - Lewis Stevenson says Hibs letting Paul Hanlon go is a 'big mistake'

This week, he engineered a reaction to one of the worst results at Easter Road in recent history, bouncing back from a 4-0 hammering by the Dons to beat Motherwell by three goals to nil; a convincing win that brought with it a rare clean sheet, and the perfect send-off for departing stalwarts Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson

So does now feel like the right time to throw his hat into the ring for the permanent position? 

“I think I will always back myself, given the opportunity. I’ve been in this position four times and it’s been uncomfortable for a number of reasons, because first and foremost, people have been losing their jobs, but in terms of backing my ability to do the job, 100 per cent: I believe I can do it. I’ve demonstrated that now on a few occasions," he says, when asked the inevitable question during his pre-match press conference ahead of Hibs' trip to Livingston on Sunday. 

“But first and foremost I’m doing what the club have asked me to do. Everything else around that, I’ll wait until my position changes." 

Part of the coaching staff for Jack Ross, Shaun Maloney, Lee Johnson, and Nick Montgomery Gray has been the man to take interim charge each time. But while it gives him a chance to prove that he is capable of stepping up, it isn't so straightforward. 

READ MORE - Malcolm McPherson exclusive: Why Hibs are backing Kensell - and what Mackay can bring

"It’s always difficult. I’ve unfortunately been in this situation with four different managers and it never gets any easier. You form a bond with these people and you feel responsible. I know the manager makes the decisions and whatever they decide to go with you have to back them 100%. My job is to try to make players better so when we’re not getting the right results and there is a bit of adversity, you do feel responsible," he adds. 

Asked what changes he was able to make ahead of the midweek win against Motherwell, given Montgomery's departure was something of a bombshell, he points to the obvious.

“When you’re coming off the back of a heavy defeat when you’ve lost four goals at home, the clearest thing was to make the team harder to beat - but also to try to put an emphasis on a few non-negotiables that I believe I’d like my teams to have - 100% effort and commitment all the time; whether that’s sprinting back or sprinting forwards, and just a collective team performance where everyone is doing everything they possibly can to make sure that we're harder to beat. Because I've always known if we can be better defensively, we've got players who are good going forward and able to affect games. The quality we’ve got means we’ll always score goals. That’s never been a concern. I just put a bit more emphasis on making us harder to beat and shutting up shop a bit more."

READ MORE: What David Gray said after Hibs bounce back from Dons rout

It might seem like football coaching 101 but Hibs have been guilty of forgetting the basics on more than one occasion this season, particularly in defence, which must have been galling for Gray to watch as a former right-back. He has seen and learned plenty from working with Ross, Maloney, Johnson, and Montgomery; four managers with very different approaches.

“I’ve tried, on my journey so far, to take things on board that I believe are good, and also what I maybe don’t agree with - because everybody’s got an opinion - but it’s about forming what I believe is the way I would want to do things. I think I’ve tweaked it along the way because I learn things all the time. But my principles and my identity remain the same," he explains. 

Gray has spent long enough in Scottish football as a player and coach to have just about seen it all: cup glory, title wins, heartbreak in finals. 

"I think the word experience gets thrown around a lot. What is experience? Does it need to be 500 games or does it mean you’ve played 200 games in the league? I’m fortunate to have been at this club for the last ten years through many highs and many lows," he continues. 

"I have been put into situations from a coach's point of view you would very rarely get so early in your coaching career: cup finals, European football, Premiership games."

If he felt ready for a permanent post at Hibs or elsewhere, it's highly unlikely he would say it in black and white, out of respect for those he has worked with who have lost their jobs. But there might be hints. 

"I think there comes a point where the job I’m doing at the moment... I’m not saying I feel comfortable doing it because of the situation, but I’m not shying away from it," he says. 

“I believe I can do it. I’ve demonstrated I can. Ultimately, it’s what the club want to do moving forward. If they feel I’m ready to do it and they want me to do it then that’s a decision they can make. Until that day comes I will continue to do the best for this club every single day."