Recently retired Hawks 2008 premiership midfielder Chance Bateman declared his old club can stride one step further than last year’s losing grand final with recruitment of tough defender Brian Lake from the Western Bulldogs.
But before Lake and the multi-talented superstar power forward Lance Franklin, dynamic small goal-shark Cyril Riloi and trump on-ballers Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell can live up to all the off-season expectations, the Hawks must contend with potentially the most imposing draw in the league.
The star-studded Hawks must overcome recent bogey unit Geelong to launch their 2013 premiership drive and then just six days later probably the most daunting road trip in the league to confront West Coast in Perth.
In one of the modern era’s most quirky hoodoos, the Hawks have not beaten Geelong in nine consecutive showdowns since Hawthorn robbed the Cats of the 2008 flag in a major grand final upset.
In probably the most imposing opening to the 2013 premiership assault the early flag favourites, at around $4.50 in leading betting markets, the Hawks are strangely scheduled to play all other top eight finalists from last season in their opening seven weeks.
After the Cats on Easter Monday April 1, it's then over to West Coast at Patersons’s Stadium just six days later.
Then the Hawks head back to the MCG for a shootout with another genuine title contender Collingwood before coping with another six-day break and a first outing at Hawthorn’s second “home” in Launceston against Fremantle.
The Hawks then take on North Melbourne at the MCG in Round 5, head to AAMI Stadium to confront Adelaide before a grand final rematch with the Swans at the “G” on May 11.
League fixture makers offer the classy Hawks a possible respite with three successive potential “soft” outings up against anticipated cellar dwellers Greater Western Sydney in Launceston, Gold Coast and Melbourne in successive MCG clashes before Hawthorn’s Round 11 bye.
If they survive comfortably through that imposing first three months of a horrible roster, the Hawks look highly capable of running home toward the September play-offs with healthy victories in a similar run home to last season.
After somewhat of a surprisingly sluggish start to last year the Hawks only won two of their opening five engagements and then took their bye in Round 13 with a win-loss ratio of 8-4.
The eventual beaten grand finalists slipped into their awesome finest to win nine of their last 10 qualifying rounds and secured minor premiership standing with 68 points ahead of second-placed Adelaide on percentage.
The Hawks run home this year offers a swag of possible victories to again ensure that the classy unit, barring significant injury to key personnel, can finish well into the top four with the vital double-chance in early finals engagements.
Hawthorn is capable of repeating in the vicinity of last season’s top of the ladder finish with at least a similar winning score line in the region of 16 or 17 home-and-away victories.