Under immense pressure and staring down the barrel of their worst start to a season in 15 years, the Swans showed their mettle by clawing and tackling their way to a stirring 17-point victory at the SCG.
Five talking points: Sydney Swans v Fremantle
Underdogs heading into the game after picking up one win over their opening four games, the Swans used sheer will early and then added some polish as they secured a 13.14 (92) to 11.9 (75) victory.
The Dockers fought back from a 35-point deficit in the third term to get within 15 points deep into the final quarter, but the Swans held firm to avoid a 1-4 start - which would have been their worst since way back in 1999.
Instead, they improve to a far more manageable 2-3 win-loss record, with games against Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions to come over the next fortnight.
Josh Kennedy (38 touches), Kieren Jack (nine tackles), Ben McGylnn (12 tackles), Dan Hannebery (10 tackles) and the rest of the Swans' under-fire midfield bounced back to something near their best and showed they are far from a spent force.
Dane Rampe played perhaps his best game, leading a backline that held sway for most of the night, well supported by fellow defenders Rhyce Shaw, Ted Richards and Nick Smith.
Franklin's form mirrored his team, trying hard but guilty of some poor turnovers early on before his class eventually came to the fore.
He kicked three goals in the critical third term and added another in the last to play his part in the victory.
Returning from his controversial two-game suspension for a bump, Nat Fyfe was excellent for the Dockers, with David Mundy picking up 31 touches and Matthew Pavlich kicking four goals.
Lachie Neale and Michael Johnson also had their moments and Aaron Sandilands had 48 hit-outs, but ultimately it was the Swans showing they still have plenty of life left in 2014.
Pre-game, AFL great David Parkin gave his opinion on the troubles of a home side expected to challenge for a flag this season.
"Sydney is very important to the competition. It would be sad to think they're over the hill and sliding down the other side," he said on ABC Radio.
"Today is a very, very important day for Sydney."
The game duly started with the Swans looking like a side desperately trying to get its season back on track.
In his 150th match as skipper, Pavlich kicked the game's opening goal, but from that point on the Swans dominated possession without making it count on the scoreboard.
Trailing by one point at the first break, the Swans got going in attack in the second term, kicking three unanswered goals for a 21-point edge at half-time.
The Swans' lead reached 35 points in the third term and, although the Dockers kicked three quick goals in the final quarter to close the gap, the home side did enough to secure a critical victory.
FREMANTLE 2.2 2.4 8.6 11.9 (75)
Sydney Swans: Franklin 4, McGlynn 2, Malceski, Kennedy, McVeigh, Roberts-Thomson, Parker, B.Jack, Jetta
Fremantle: Pavlich 4, Johnson 2, Ballantyne 2, Mzungu, Mundy
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Rampe, McGlynn, Hannebery, Parker, Richards, Shaw
Fremantle: Fyfe, Mundy, Pavlich, Johnson, Sandilands, Neale
Sydney Swans: Nil
Sydney Swans: Brandon Jack replaced by Jake Lloyd in the fourth quarter
Fremantle: Matt Taberner replaced by Nick Suban in the third quarter
Umpires: Daigleish, Mitchell, Mollison
Official crowd: 25,376 at the SCG