Hinkley says his relationship with Port Adelaide is based on a mutual understanding.
"We want to be great," Hinkley told AAP.
But then comes the pre-nuptial: don't expect too much, too soon.
Port have been caught in a vicious cycle since last making the finals in 2007.
On-field woes have resulted in home crowds plunging by an average 10,000 fans a game.
The desertion caused cash flow problems and, in turn, made Port somewhat unpalatable to sponsors - although the recent signing of Renault was a significant contribution by new president David Koch.
But Hinkley, appointed for four seasons after repeatedly being overlooked by other clubs, didn't realise his ambition of becoming a head coach without being an optimist.
"It has been a long time getting an opportunity for me. Now that I have got it, I'm going at it 100 miles an hour," he said.
"It's a typical honeymoon period and the players have been absorbing everything."
Hinkley needs to sell Port - its players, supporters and officials - the most precious commodity in sport: hope.
"There is not one thing that should stop us from being as good as we possibly can be," he said.
"The most important thing for our supporters to understand is we're about changing what we are and pushing ourselves back up the ladder.
"Without doubt there will be some times where it's not smooth.
"But we want to make sure they can consistently see that this side is heading in the right direction."
Port won five games last season, just three the year before.
Its senior core has eroded with the departures of Danyle Pearce (Fremantle) and Troy Chaplin (Richmond), who were Port's top two rebounders from defence last season.
A hardened underbelly including the likes of David Rodan (Melbourne) and Jacob Surjan (delisted) has gone.
In the midfield, Port again will rely heavily on Travis Boak - who has replaced Dom Cassisi as captain - Brad Ebert and Hamish Hartlett.
Port's attack will focus on Jay Schulz and the potential of John Butcher, still recovering from surgery on both hips.
Luring ex-Essendon 150-gamer Angus Monfries will help, but arguably the Power's most talented player, Robbie Gray, will be eased back from a knee reconstruction.
Hinkley's playing list - the third youngest in the league - is uncertain. But he said that could be a blessing.
"One of our strengths might be the unknown," Hinkley said.
"We have drafted enough talent, if we can coach them the right way and get them in the right direction, there should be enough talent there that makes us a very good side."
But Hinkley said it was dangerous to predict just how long it would take.
"We have got to get our on-field stuff really strong and be hard and ruthless in the way we go about it," he said.
"And then people will want to come back and watch us, and that will hopefully help everyone's job at the club become much easier."