As far as campaign defining moments go, you'd have to file Hibs' upcoming run straight into the 'uninspiring' category. But that does not mean it's not vitally important.

It's all about context. Scrambling about to squeeze into the top six doesn't exactly capture the imagination of supporters when pre-season ambitions were to push on significantly from last term's European qualification. Booking another continental adventure isn't completely out of the question for Nick Montgomery and his players come late May, but they are facing an almighty scramble to even be afforded a go at it.

Three games remain until the Scottish Premiership snaps in two, with Hibs having one foot in the top half. There remains the very real threat that Dundee, two points behind but with a game in hand, might drag Montgomery's side back through the door and slam it in their faces. It's finely poised, with both teams, oddly, facing the same trio of opponents over the three matchdays.

Hibs start with a trip to Ibrox when domestic action resumes this Saturday, then it's St Johnstone at Easter Road, followed by a run back down the M8 to Motherwell. For Dundee, it's home to St Johnstone, away to Motherwell, home to Rangers. There could hardly be a fairer way to settle it, really.

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I fully acknowledge that this scenario even existing is more than a little depressing for Hibs fans, who will feel that going toe-to-toe with a team not even a year out of the Championship, and for the right to simply finish in the top half, is markedly short of where the club should be. But you know what they say about dealing with the world as it is, not as you'd like it to be, and Hibs' reality is that failing to get over this hurdle will have consequences.

For one, it would effectively put an end to the league season. Should Hibs end up in the bottom six, their chances of being dragged into the relegation mire are remote. And while that is, in one sense, comforting, it would see the campaign meander to a conclusion with a series of dead rubbers. Nothing quite kills fan enthusiasm like games that don't really matter, and, looking down the table, there would not be an awful lot to stir the senses.

From a competitive standpoint, a team which has undoubtedly improved since the New Year requires further tests against strong sides, and Montgomery's reign as manager would benefit from a so-far elusive statement result. The manager has come close on occasion, but is yet to secure a victory over Hearts in three attempts, and has taken only one point from Celtic and Rangers, collectively.

If Hibs are to convince any of the January loanees to stay beyond the end of the current term, they might just feel more inclined to do so if the campaign concludes with a push for Europe, an extra Edinburgh derby, and more chances to take on the league's top two. Emiliano Marcondes and Myziane Maolida joining on-loan was secured by offering two players in need of a challenge the opportunity to find exactly that, and having them around for several matches of no consequences would be a waste.

Most of important of all, though, is that Hibs do not find themselves in a position where European football is completely off the table. With eight games remaining in total, Kilmarnock are only six points ahead in fourth place, and St Mirren just four. Sneaking into the top six might just require Hibs to take at least six points from their next three outings, and doing so could feasibly reduce the gap on the pair above. Do that, and the post-split fixtures suddenly take on real meaning and excitement as the possibility of another Euro trip becomes real once more. 

There's excitement around the incoming investment from Bill Foley this summer, but competing in UEFA tournaments remains a money-spinning endeavour that can be crucial to the long-term growth of a club like Hibs. And, with current coefficient standings making that more achievable than ever, it ought to be taken advantage of in the not-unlikely event Scotland's UEFA ranking does take a hit before long, closing doors to qualification.

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With a place in the top six would come another late season derby, a chance for Hibs to ensure they do not end the campaign without a win over Hearts, and to lay down a marker for 2024/25. Steven Naismith's side look to have taken an unassailable lead in third place, but a Hibs victory over them before the season's out would generate belief that the gap between these sides is not as significant as the league table suggests.

Three games, then. Three games to reach the split on an upward trajectory, foster belief in the stands, and deliver some evidence that this is a team that can go places under Montgomery. Sneaking in the back door for top six may be far removed from where everyone at the club ideally wants to be, but that makes it all the more important to deliver the bare minimum and take it from there, because the alternative is several weeks of nothing much at all.

Over to you, Hibs.