LANCE Franklin was a champion goalkicker and two-time premiership player at Hawthorn but he's just another Sydney Swan now, according to Luke Hodge.
On Friday night Hodge's Hawks will face their former teammate for the first time since Franklin accepted a nine-year, $10 million deal to move north.
The Hawks skipper expertly deflected a barrage of 'Buddy' questions when he fronted the media at the Ricoh Centre on Monday.
"I thought the 'Buddy' question might come up," Hodge joked.
"But, look, I think anytime you play against Sydney they've got a lot of quality players which you've got be worried about ... he just adds to that.
"Our last three or four years against Sydney have been quite entertaining, and they've all been good contests.
"So it's going to be no different whether they bring in (Kurt) Tippett, 'Buddy' – whoever they bring in that's going to do the job for them."
Franklin's close friend Josh Gibson is his likely match-up, but Hodge said it would be a team effort to close down the star Swan – if he recovers from a knee injury in time to take his place.
"I'd reckon at some stage he'll play on him. But it's the same as on the weekend – we had three or four blokes go through and play on (Nick) Riewoldt," Hodge said.
Coach Alastair Clarkson said Franklin's ability to play through pain meant he was a real chance to line up against his former side, despite his sore knee.
"He's a very, very proud man. Ironically, against Sydney in a final a couple of years ago, he hurt his knee the week before against Geelong," he told Channel Seven's Talking Footy on Monday night.
"Nobody really gave him much chance, including us within the club, we thought it would be near impossible that he would get himself up. But he played the next week, kicked four [goals] and was an influential player so he's been able to play with injury on a regular basis and cope with it really well.
“We'll just have to wait and see until Thursday night to see whether he's going play."
Hawthorn prepared for life without 'Buddy' last season, partly in response to the 2012 Grand Final loss against the Swans and partly in case Franklin took up a lucrative free agency deal.
Clarkson developed more goalscoring avenues, which now sees three Hawks perched inside the League's top six goalkickers.
Luke Breust is second in the race for the Coleman Medal with 21 goals, ahead of teammates Jack Gunston (19) and Jarryd Roughead (17).
"That's the way our forward line has gone towards after 2011 and '12 and previously before that we were focusing too much on 'Buddy' and 'Roughie'," Hodge said.
"When you've got our forward line sharing the ball as they are, I think they're being as selfless as I've seen for a long time."
Returning from 12 months out of the game, Ryan Schoenmakers added a new element to the Hawks' attack in their 145-point belting of St Kilda last Saturday.
But after kicking four goals, the big man might be needed down back this week against Franklin, Tippett, Adam Goodes and Sam Reid.
Scans confirmed on Monday that full-back Brian Lake and star midfielder Sam Mitchell are facing extended spells on the sidelines from injuries sustained on Saturday.
Lake suffered another setback with his calf, following his soft-tissue battles from earlier this season.
"We were as cautious as we could be with him," Hodge said.
"He had two weeks at VFL, he didn’t play for that extra week before he played VFL just to make sure he was cherry ripe.
"I think it's just one of those things that he was a bit tight, then he went to push off and it went.
"So they'll go through the same rehab program as they have in the past with him and just make sure that when he's ready to play he's right to go."
Mitchell will be out for two months after scans revealed a hamstring tendon injury.
"It was disappointing, he's been so durable for us over his career," Hodge said.
"But, look, we've been able to manage in the past. If blokes have been injured, a younger person will step up and take their spot. That's the same attitude as we're taking with this.
"If anyone knows him, he's the ultimate professional. He'll be doing everything he can to get back as quick as he can."