Hearts bounced back from derby defeat to demolish Ross County at Tynecastle, with the 6-1 win keeping the Staggies firmly at the foot of the table.
Lawrence Shankland hit a hat-trick, while Josh Ginelly netted a double and Alex Cochrane was on the scoresheet in a one-sided match in Edinburgh.
Hearts had been on their worst run in 15 years, losing five games in a row before parting ways with manager Robbie Neilson, with interim boss Steven Naismith then beginning his time in charge with defeat to Hibs at Easter Road.
A response was required from the team and they delivered in style, dominating the game against Malky Mackay’s side.
Naismith had made five changes from the derby loss, with Nathan Atkinson, Cochrane, Ginnelly, Peter Haring and Yutaro Oda coming into the side. County brought Alex Iacovitti and David Cancola in after their defeat to Aberdeen last week.
Both sides had chances in the opening exchanges before Hearts opened the scoring on 17 minutes. Cochrane strode forward and collected ther ball after Shankland and Ginnelly had tried to engineer an opening and he found space to hit a clean strike from an angle low past Ross Laidlaw and into the corner of the net.
Hearts had the advantage and didn’t look back. Josh Ginnelly raced through from just inside the County half, chopped inside his marker and placed a finish high into the opposite corner. A VAR review was needed to check a tight offside call but the goal stood and Hearts were two clear.
Lawrence Shankland’s scoring rate had slowed in recent weeks but he got his name on the scoresheet before half an hour had been played. Barrie McKay and Cochrane linked up and a perfectly-judged cross was delivered for Shankland to head home.
Moments later, the striker thought he had a second when he tried an ambitious lob from distance that came back off the crossbar but he didn’t have to wait too long for another as Hearts turned the screw.
County had been hoping to reach half time without further damage but as the break approached, Shankland went down under a challenge from Dylan Smith. Don Robertson reviewed the challenge on the pitchside monitor, awarded the penalty and Shankland fired in his second goal.
The visitors needed something to get a foothold in the game and had an opportunity when Jordan White got on the end of a cross but he headed off the bar when it looked easier to score. After that let-off, Hearts picked up where they left off with more goals.
Ginelly got on the scoresheet again, finding space to get a shot away from outside the box and zipping a low drive past Laidlaw for his second and Hearts’ fifth.
Straight after the restart Hearts poured forward again and Oda carried the ball on a mazy dribble. He saw his run blocked and Jack Baldwin attempted to head the ball away while on the ground but he rolled it into the path of Shankland who dinked it into the net.
Substitutes from both sides took the flow out of the game and with the points secured already, the pace of the action naturally slowed but County did get a consolation late on.
Owura Edwards was knocked over in the box by Cochrane and stepped up to take the kick himself, beating Zander Clark from 12 yards for what was no more than a consolation before Hearts celebrated at full-time.