Steven Pressley believes Hearts can push Celtic all the way this season and win the Scottish Premiership.
The former Jambos skipper has been impressed by the start his old side have made and sees no signs why they can’t mount a serious title challenge.
The last team to win the title outside Rangers or Celtic was Aberdeen in the 1984-85 season, while Celtic have won the last four consecutive titles.
However, Pressley, who also played for Celtic, says Hearts can prevent them from winning five in a row.
“Both Hearts and Aberdeen have shown great ambition and they can push champions Celtic all the way for the Premiership title,” he said.
“Aberdeen have progressed year on year under Derek McInnes and I expect them to be strong throughout the season.
“Even before the start of the season I really believed that Hearts can go the distance. There’s an energy and belief coming from the club that’s infectious.
“Their title challenge will come from being consistent over the course of the campaign.
“Irregardless of whether Celtic get through to the Champions League group stages, they’ll be pushed all the way.”
Pressley has been impressed with the recruitment process in Midlothian with the likes of striker Juanma and Gavin Reilly being added to the squad.
“Hearts in particular have been very creative in the transfer market. They’ve plundered Europe and made some astute signings. Under the guidance of Robbie Neilson they can be a threat,” he said.
“Their recruitment has focused on very robust players who can deal with the physicality of the British game and that could be crucial.
“Like Chelsea in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, Hearts have built a solid foundation and they’ll be able to handle playing in the most difficult venues during the harsh winter months.”