The medal collection of Steven Naismith speaks to a man with very little left to achieve. 

Three top-flight titles, two League Cup wins and a Scottish Cup triumph back in 2008/09 when Rangers narrowly defeated Falkirk at Hampden. 

Throw in a young player of year gong, a fine career south of the border and 51 caps (and counting) for Scotland and you have a more than passable CV for any player to look back on. 

However, Sunday’s showpiece final between Hearts and Celtic is anything but old hat for Naismith. It is new, it is different, as for the first time at the age of 34, he will seek to captain a club to a major honour. 

But one thing remains the same: the imperative to win at all costs. It’s the taking part that counts is not a mindset Naismith subscribes to. 

“It’s different being captain, which is something I’ve not done before,” explained Naismith. “That brings a bit extra but my mentality is the same - go and win because it’s there to be won. I’ll tell the players to make sure they enjoy it while they’re going through it. 

“We’ve been in the last four semi-finals and were in the last Scottish Cup final so it could seem that it comes easy. Well, it’s not. You can go many years without getting close to a final. So enjoy it.

“As you get involved in cup finals, you understand that the occasion does fly by. Before you know it, you’re looking back on it. But understand that it’s a game of football. Win it - and you can enjoy it for years to come.”

Naismith’s winning mentality shines through and has not always been replicated among his Hearts teammates in recent campaigns. However, he has felt a sea-change this term. Craig Gordon is back, Christophe Berra has returned from the exile imposed upon his by former boss Daniel Stendel, Peter Haring is fully fit and Michael Smith has turned into a giant in the dressing room. Boss Robbie Neilson won this trophy as a player. 

Leaders one and all; driving a group who will not be content to make up the numbers tomorrow afternoon.

“The mentality has changed this season,” said Naismith honestly. “There are more boys with a competitive edge. In life in general, you have people who want it and other people who want it more. You’ve got to have more of those players who will do anything to win. 

“You can’t have players saying: ‘Oh, we did well, we were unlucky, it was a good day’. That isn’t good enough. You’re still a loser. Simple as that. I’ve been there. I’ve been on the winning side. They are the best memories you’ll make in football. Whether that be a League Cup a Scottish Cup or a title - they’re the best days in your football career.” 

Of his myriad triumphs, Celtic were so often the adversaries. 

He led the line alongside Nikica Jelavic when Rangers defeated the Hoops 2-1 after extra-time in a nerve-shredding CIS Insurance Cup final in 2011, while his title triumphs were all achieved with the Bhoys giving chase. 

So, Naismith is acutely aware of the pressure that comes with representing either half of the Glasgow giants and has no qualms about claiming Hearts can utilise the suffocating sense of expectation endured by their opponents. 

“Without a shadow of a doubt, we can use that,” he continued. “Being at the Old Firm, drawing, not creating chances and not winning; it’s not good enough. That’s the demand that is set by both clubs. We’ve got to use that. We’ve got to understand the pressure on them and get the basic side right, defend well and then be brave and composed on the ball.”

Indeed, Naismith has vowed that Hearts do not intend to make it the Alamo at the national stadium, emphasising the belief in the camp that players such as Liam Boyce, Jamie Walker and himself can hurt the Hoops.  

“We’ll get good chances,” he added. “Building the frustration is an element of it but the best way to beat Rangers or Celtic is to keep the ball. 

“We can’t get sucked into just kicking the ball long. We’ve got good players and need to show that.  We can use the confidence we’ve built this season.”