It was a sobering weekend at Easter Road, to say the least.

Those who turned out for Saturday's 3-0 humbling at home to St Mirren were left wishing they'd just stayed in the house and long before the half-time whistle many appeared to be heading in that precise direction once again. With all three goals coming in the first half against a Saints side far from full strength, it was undoubtedly the low point of Nick Montgomery's tenure.

Hibs have now taken just two points from the last 18 available in the Premiership - the exact same return as the league's bottom two sides in Livingston and Ross County. And with Celtic coming to town on Wednesday followed by successive trips to Inverness, in the Scottish Cup, and Aberdeen, the fixtures aren't getting any more straightforward.

What's especially worrying about Saturday is that StatsBomb data suggests this was not a freak result. Rather, Hibs have been trending in the wrong direction across several important metrics for some time, and the weekend humbling draws it into sharp focus.

Initial impressions of Hibs under Montgomery were that it could be a rollercoaster - a team loaded with attacking players, adopting an expansive style. For a time, it appeared as though it might just pan out that way, with Hibs having little trouble finding the net, yet being unable to keep clean sheets at the other end.

But the concern of late is that Hibs do not offer a consistent attacking threat, and are too leaky at the other end. Expected goals (xG) data, for and against, is among the most reliable indicators of a team's underlying performance.

It measures the quality of chances created or conceded, how likely a chance is to be scored, and can tell us much about teams and individuals. For example, if a team's xG is lower than the number of goals scored, it indicates particularly ruthless finishing or even an element of fortune that could soon regress to the mean.

Conversely, an xG higher than actual goals scored suggests that while a team needs to improve its finishing, the players are also getting into good areas and creating quality chances - indicative of a side that is generally performing well.

With Hibs this season, there has been a steady decline in xG, coupled with a rise in xG conceded, pointing to what most fans are already seeing: the team is lacking threat and giving away soft goals. The chart below plots Hibs' xG against xG conceded on a rolling average over ten games, which gives a clearer indication of how a team is trending on a particular metric long-term, rather than on a game-to-game basis.

In a side with so many attacking players, the low xG is of particular surprise. But being unable to fashion high xG opportunities has become a theme, and Hibs' rolling xG average has been below 1 since early December.

While xG is the headline figure epitomising Hibs' current struggle, we can drill down further into why the numbers being posted are so low. The decline in xG has, unsurprisingly, followed a drop-off in Hibs' activity in the opponents box. Almost all recorded high xG opportunities are created in the penalty area, and the stats suggest Hibs are struggling to get there. The rolling average for passes into the box and passes inside the box have been on the decline, albeit there are tentative signs of an uptick in the former of late.


Given a general footballing trend of teams taking fewer shots from outside the box - they generally have a low xG, unsurprisingly - it comes as no surprise to learn that Hibs are among the poorest-performing teams in the league for shots taken. They are in some of the lowest percentiles for overall shots, clear shots, and counter-attacking shots.

These issues are being compounded by the fact that Hibs are not performing well defensively. As the chart earlier demonstrates, xG conceded has been on a worrying incline of late, and the rolling average has been above 1 since October. Nick Montgomery and Joe Newell assessed the goals given away on Saturday as stemming from a lack of 'fight and desire'.

READ MORE: Newell on the scathing verdict that should hurt Hibs the most

Only the players themselves will truly know whether their levels of application have been up to scratch, but the three St Mirren stuck in the back of the net were due in no small part to Hibs' failure to do the basics. Second phases from set-pieces were the primary issue at Kilmarnock last weekend, and again for St Mirren's opener.

Even when Hibs win the first contact, opposition teams know that if they can pick up second balls, they will likely get opportunities. Those moments after an initial set-piece has been cleared is where concentration, organisation, and leadership become so important.

For the first goal, a St Mirren cross is sent towards the back post and Mikael Mandron's header back across is cleared, only for Myziane Maolida to fail to react to the second ball.

Caolan Boyd-Munce pounces first, working his way to a crossing position and clipping in for Alex Gogić at the back post. Initially, Emiliano is well-placed to block Gogic's run, but he ends up being drawn towards the ball. The cross comes in and it's too big an ask for Rory Whittaker, who had a man at the back post in Marcus Fraser, to get across and cut it out.

Debutant Nectar Triantis was somewhat unfortunate to concede a penalty for the second - the ball bouncing up off his raised arm at close range - but he could have done better for the third. Again, it's nothing other than a simple corner with St Mirren focusing two runners on the back post.

Triantis initially tries to get tight to Mandron, but his focus on the flight of the cross means he never quite gets on the correct side of his run, and it's an easy tap-in for the forward.

Addressing this weakness will go a long way to reducing the number of goals Hibs concede, but that it continues to plague the team, even under different managers, is especially puzzling.