REPORTS of Hawthorn's football death were greatly exaggerated.
Alastair Clarkson's under-siege side – facing its first 0-5 start since 1970 – finally saluted on Sunday night at the MCG to get some footing in the 2017 season after a nightmare start.
The 19.11 (125) to 11.9 (75) win over West Coast was set up in a throwback, first-half effort, where a host of premiership stars combined with the young players tasked with taking the club forward.
The Eagles (3-2) have now lost five of their past six matches at the home of football and six of seven overall there against the Hawks.
They won't have another chance to improve that dismal record before a potential finals appearance this year.
Clarkson was satisfied with a team-wide effort – every player had at least 14 possessions – after consecutive 86-point beltings to Gold Coast and Geelong
"We did it tough in the last couple of weeks, in particular, but today was pleasing they got some reward for four or five weeks of hard work," Clarkson said.
"Our training and morale and that sort of stuff; there's been plenty of hysteria outside the club, but not within the walls of our footy club.
"We've got great faith in our group of players.
"There's been a confidence and belief in the group we can still turn our season around, and it's one small step, but it's a positive one today."
Cyril Rioli, Shaun Burgoyne, Ben McEvoy, Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Josh Gibson and Liam Shiels turned back the clock, while exciting forward Tim O'Brien put on an aerial show.
Tom Mitchell (37 disposals) was possibly the best of them all, continuing his big ball-winning ways with 19 in the first two quarters on his way to 30-plus for the fourth time in five rounds.
There was a different feel about Hawthorn's approach from the get-go, with Burgoyne's expert handballing pacing his much-slicker and more direct side.
The four-time premiership player twice set up goals that way for Gunston then Paul Puopolo in the first and third quarters, respectively.
Then there was Rioli, who attempted two Mark of the Year contenders – landing one crowd-pleaser in the fourth term – and set up a series of goals with clever taps or desperation.
The Hawks' much-maligned youth stocks received a shot in the arm, with O'Brien – preferred to Ty Vickery – a force with his hands, James Sicily lively, and Billy Hartung playing one of his best games.
Hawthorn's round two NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Ryan Burton and third-gamer Blake Hardwick were also composed in defence.
McEvoy dominated in the ruck – amassing 43 hit-outs and taking some telling marks – after West Coast chose to leave out Jon Giles and back Nathan Vardy in.
Jack Darling led the Eagles with four goals, while on-ballers Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey and defender Tom Barrass were other good performers.
Priddis laid 11 tackles to move to 1502 in his career and overtake retired Saint Lenny Hayes (1496) for the all-time competition lead.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said his players failed to respond to the Hawks' inevitable form spike after constant public criticism.
"We got exactly what we thought we'd get with Hawthorn – there were no surprises there," Simpson said.
"Our inability to be consistent with the ball, with pressure, how we handle it, standing up when it counts and converting when it counts was a concern.
"The Hawks were just relentless all day … and we couldn't sustain it. Even when our intent was right we looked fumbly, from our senior players down to our kids."
Goals to Sicily, O'Brien then Breust in a quick burst blew Hawthorn's lead out to 21 points inside the first 10 minutes of the second term and it went to half-time 27 clear.
The Eagles won the inside-50 count 19-11 in the third quarter as they tried to pierce the Hawks' defences, but fell further behind on the scoreboard.
Hawthorn spent much of the first month defending its form and off-season trading, in particular the offloading of champions Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis and recruiting of Jaeger O'Meara.
This result is unlikely to make that scrutiny disappear, but will make Waverley Park a much more pleasant place – and the Hawks a happier team.
Hawthorn: The Hawks emerged largely unscathed, although Isaac Smith (knee) spent some time in the rooms in the second quarter and James Sicily limped off at one stage in the third term, only to return.
West Coast: Jamie Cripps (ankle) looks in doubt for the Western Derby, but Brad Sheppard (knee) and late inclusion Dom Sheed (shoulder) should be available.
Hawthorn will be gunning for two in a row when it hosts St Kilda – fresh from a fadeout against Geelong – in Tasmania on Saturday. The Eagles are going head-on into another much-anticipated derby with in-form Fremantle the same night, albeit with one day's less preparation than the Dockers, who won in Perth.
HAWTHORN 3.4 9.8 12.9 19.11 (125)
WEST COAST 2.2 5.5 7.8 11.9 (75)
Hawthorn: O'Brien 3, Breust 3, Roughead 3, Gunston 3, Sicily 2, Shiels, Puopolo, Burgoyne, McEvoy, Rioli
West Coast: Darling 4, Shuey 2, Hill 2, Cripps, Kennedy, Redden
Hawthorn: Mitchell, O'Brien, Rioli, Burgoyne, McEvoy, Breust, Gibson
West Coast: Shuey, Priddis, Darling, Barrass, Gaff
Hawthorn: Smith (knee)
West Coast: Sheppard (knee), Cripps (leg)
Umpires: Foot, Fleer, Pannell
Official crowd: 28,997 at the MCG