Aberdeen piled the pressure on Rangers and Hibs in a race for second that will be decided as much by nerves as football quality.
A vital dominant victory, the 2-0 win elevated the Dons three points clear of Rangers and six ahead of Hibs in the Premiership race.
Now it is the turn for the nerve of Aberdeen’s rivals to be tested in a weekend that could prove pivotal.
Hibs host Kilmarnock today while Rangers travel to Celtic tomorrow in a game where the Hoops could secure the title.
Dons boss Derek McInnes admitted in the build-up to the Hearts clash that his side needed to win at least three of their remaining four fixtures to finish second.
It is effectively the same scenario for their rivals and Aberdeen have moved into a position where they can capitalise on any slip-ups.
Aberdeen took full advantage of the Friday night kick-off and completely outplayed and outfought a Hearts side who had frustrated them three times this season
Now they face back-to-back home games against Hibs and Rangers before the season finale at champions-elect Celtic.
Aberdeen’s form of eight wins from their last 10 games at Pittodrie, with one draw, suggests they could have manoeuvred themselves into pole position for second.
Meanwhile, Rangers go into the crunch games with an incumbent manager unlikely to be there next season.
The Ibrox club’s courting of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, completely untested managerially, has left the Gers playing for a manager in Graeme Murty who is unlikely to be there after this campaign.
How that will affect their bid for second will be seen tomorrow but it could yet give the Reds the edge.
A marked improvement to the recent 2-0 loss to the Jambos was needed if the Reds were to engineer a way past a defence that had kept them out for three straight games.
They did and there was a fluency and pace to their game with penetration on the flanks and danger in the attack that had been absent previously against Hearts.
McInnes had tried the combination of Stevie May and Adam Rooney to no avail against the Jambos, so this time he mixed it up with a shock first start for January-signing Sam Cosgrove.
The former Carlisle United striker was introduced to add a physical presence against the robust Hearts back-line.
It worked as Cosgrove was a threat and his aerial presence was fundamental in the opener as his header set up the goal.
The 21-year-old was also denied a goal by a superb instinctive save from keeper Jon McLaughlin.
Cosgrove’s first start was far more successful than his nightmare debut, when he was sent off just eight minutes after his entrance as a substitute for a challenge on Scott Brown in a 2-0 loss to Celtic in February.
Aberdeen’s six-figure investment in buying three 1,000-watt lighting rigs in March to sort the Pittodrie pitch has paid off.
In the last home match against St Johnstone on March 31, the pitch was bare and rutted.
A month on, the transformation is clear as the pitch is now lush, flat and conducive to the style of play Aberdeen require.
There were three changes to the Dons side that defeated Kilmarnock 2-0 at Rugby Park.
Northern Ireland international winger Niall McGinn returned from a groin injury and was elevated straight into the starting line-up.
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven and Cosgrove started with Mark Reynolds, Ryan Christie and Greg Stewart dropping to the bench.
The Dons threatened in the fourth minute when Scott McKenna, recently shortlisted for the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year, embarked on a marauding run from his own half.
The Scotland international centre-back shrugged off a challenge from Michael Smith before sliding a pass to Graeme Shinnie.
Skipper Shinnie unleashed a powerful 25-yard drive but keeper McLaughlin saved.
The opener came in the 22nd minute when Cosgrove rose to meet a corner-kick whipped in from the right by McGinn.
Cosgrove’s header down across goal found Anthony O’CONNOR, who clinically swept home from 10 yards.
It was nearly 2-0 moments later when a free-kick from May alluded the Hearts defence to find the onrushing McGinn but McLaughlin blocked the 12-yard effort.
Aberdeen deservedly doubled their advantage with a superb goal in the 38th minute.
An incisive pass from McLean split open the Hearts rear-guard to pick out MACKAY-STEVEN’S run.
The winger brilliantly curled a low effort on the run from 15 yards beyond McLaughlin.
Aberdeen nearly went further ahead in the 43rd minute when Logan was inches short of connecting with a May cross.
Early in the second half Shinnie had a low shot from the edge of the penalty area saved by keeper McLaughlin.
Moments later Mackay-Steven flashed a shot wide before Dominic Ball fired a vicious 25-yard left-footed volley just over.
Hearts’ Kyle Lafferty had two good chances in front of goal within minutes but wasted both.
It summed up a dismal night for Hearts, who were outplayed and outfought by the Reds.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, O’Connor, Ball, McKenna, Shinnie, McLean, McGinn, Mackay-Steven, May, Cosgrove.
Subs: Rooney (for Cosgrove 75), Christie (for May 75), Considine (for McGinn 82).
Subs not used: Woodman, Arnason, Reynolds, Stewart.
HEARTS: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Hughes, Berra, Lafferty, Naismith, Cowie, Randall, Moore, Henderson.
Subs: Cochrane (for Henderson 58), Irving (for Randall 73), McDonald (for Cowie 83).
Subs not used: J. Hamilton, Amankwaa, Callachan, C. Hamilton.
Referee: Andrew Dallas.