There are some games where the numbers fail to reflect what actually happened on the pitch. Hibs' defeat at St Johnstone on Saturday was not one of those.

It was Nick Montgomery's first Premiership defeat to a team not called Celtic or Rangers, and his team delivered the most lacklustre performance of his tenure to date. Chance creation was almost non-existent (more on that later), and it took several interventions from David Marshall to prevent Saints adding to the one goal that was eventually enough to earn them all three points.

Graham Carey was the man to provide it, pouncing on a glaring Dylan Levitt error and leaving Marshall helpless with an arrowed shot into the bottom corner. Hibs never looked like recovering, and were unable to match Craig Levein's players in a number of areas.

Hibs lack inspiration

It's difficult to immediately recall a moment when Hibs put the St Johnstone backline under any serious threat, and it's reflected in their worst expected goals (a measure of the quality of chances created) return of the season. Montgomery's side accumulated just 0.14xG over 90 minutes, and they were not credited with any shots on target.

The trendlines below tell the story of how that xG was accumulated across the game, and basically depicts which team was on top at various stages. It paints a rather bleak picture for Hibs, and it's especially striking that their xG - and I use this term loosely - peaked at around 65 minutes.

Hibs Observer:

With Saints taking the lead on 57 minutes, the very least Montgomery will have expected thereafter was a sustained push for an equaliser, but the home side were able to see out the last half an hour, plus eight minutes of stoppage time, far too comfortably. Hibs' xG from open play was even more alarming, recorded at a lowly 0.043.

Playing out from the back will come under most scrutiny given the nature of the goal given away, but the most glaring in-possession issue was in linking midfield to attack, with Hibs' forward players all posted missing from proceedings. In the first-half, especially, Montgomery's players had little issue working the ball from goal-kicks and into midfield, but at no point did they pin St Johnstone into their defensive third for any length of time.

READ MORE: Perth defeat a reminder that Hibs are a work in progress

There's nothing particularly remarkable about Hibs' passing network compared to other fixtures this season, but when drilling down into the finer details, the issues become apparent. Hibs' most frequent combination on the day was Jimmy Jeggo to Levitt (23), and that seems obvious given the former's job description will involve trying to bring his more forward-thinking midfield partner into play.

But you have to delve deep to come across any combinations between forward players. Dylan Vente's three passes to Elie Youan was the most frequent link-up between Hibs' attackers on the day, but was 49th overall. It highlights an issue which has been prevalent in previous matches, that Hibs often miss a link between midfield and attack.

Joe Newell's absence through suspension was clearly detrimental, and it's clear in the passing network above that Levitt and Jeggo were picking up the ball in near-identical positions. There was no player looking to break beyond St Johnstone's midfield three, and they were often content in allowing Hibs to play in front of them.

Vente's lack of involvement

Hibs have been struggling to get their primary striker involved in matches to any great degree. That's not necessarily an issue if his limited touches are in converting chances, but that's not happening either. Much was made of how the Dutchman scored five goals with five consecutive shots on target earlier this season, but there's no striker on the planet who will maintain that level of efficiency for too long, and Vente has just one goal in his last 11 league appearances, and that's due in no small part to a lack of chances coming his way. The graphic below maps all Vente's actions at McDiarmid Park, and it paints a telling picture.

Vente likened the life of a forward to trying to extract ketchup from a bottle in that you can shake it without success for an age, before it all comes hurtling out at once. At this point, though, he must feel like throwing the bottle at the wall. Vente is a good player, there is no doubt, but Hibs are struggling to get the best out of him.

Montgomery's side have one of the lowest crossing frequencies in the division, with wingers more likely to drift in-field than to drive at the by-line, and it seems opposition teams are now fully aware of this, and are responding accordingly by closing off central areas, safe in the knowledge that Hibs will not respond by throwing crosses into the box.

Shots trending downwards

One of the first improvements Montgomery made upon his September was to increase the number of shots Hibs were taking. Even in matches against Celtic and Rangers, they were comfortably in double figures. As the trend below demonstrates, however, that number has dropped off quite significantly in recent weeks.

Of course, simply taking more shots does not necessarily indicate a threatening attacking unit, but that xG has also begun to trend downwards of late suggests there is a correlation between the decreasing number of shots and an overall slump in creativity. 

This must be caveated, however, by pointing out the influence of a recent glut of away fixtures, which has contributed to the drop. Hibs' average xG and shots taken has remained fairly steady in home matches, and it stands to reason that they will be less dominant in matches away from Easter Road, especially as a side still in its formative stages under Montgomery's leadership. That being said, short-term improvement is still required, not least as another tricky away day looms this weekend up in Dingwall.