Bateman retired at the end of last season after 177 games as the Hawks suffered a gut-wrenching grand final loss to 2012 surprise package Sydney.
He predicts the star-studded Hawks can atone their heartbreaking 10-point loss this year with the gifted Lake a trump recruit.
Bateman, 31, says Hawthorn’s defence has lacked a powerhouse defender to play on the game’s biggest and most intimidating key forwards since the 2008 retirement of All-Australian and premiership back Trent Croad.
Bateman expects Sydney to again be a major rival to Hawthorn’s premiership hopes in 2013.
“It was pretty hard to take,” the Hawks 2008 premiership utility said on Fairfax radio 6PR in Perth.
“But at the same time, to reach a grand final is a fair measure of a successful season as well.
“Only one team can ever win it.
“We played a lot of consistent and really elite footy throughout most of the year and we were just unlucky to run into a really good, hard, disciplined side on grand final day.
“I’m sure they will be looking to improve on last year and maybe get there again this year.”
Bateman expects Hawthorn’s defensive zones to be stronger and even more imposing to score against with the arrival of Lake from the Western Bulldogs.
Lake, 30, has played 197 senior games and swapped to the Hawks through last year’s trade period despite having another year to run on his contract at the Doggies.
“You’d probably hold off from completely dismissing Sydney again. They’ve been a great side for a long time,” said Bateman.
“I think with the recruiting of Lake, we probably lacked a little bit of experience down back since Croady left the side in 2008.
“So I think Brian Lake is a really big signing.
“He’s a two-time All-Australian and a really experienced, clever defender and I that will bolster their chances for next (sic) year.”
Bateman retired after he was restricted to just three senior Hawks games last year when was forced to endure a lengthy recovery from a serious shoulder injury early into the season.
He elected not to press for finals selection after a comeback in Round 21 after a successful return to VFL ranks with Hawks affiliate club Box Hill, but trained with the senior squad through the 2012 finals campaign.
The tough midfield all-rounder has committed to continue playing at his original WAFL club Perth in 2013.