PORT Adelaide has salvaged a morale-boosting win from the wreckage of a bleak season, dealing Hawthorn's top-two ambitions a crushing blow with a thrilling 22-point victory at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
And the Hawks' loss could be soured further, with inspirational skipper Luke Hodge set to come under scrutiny for a high bump on Power superstar Chad Wingard.
After a fiery opening to the third quarter, Hodge sandwiched Wingard between his body and the behind post as he bent down to pick up the ball, leaving the Power forward dazed on the ground.
The incident looms as a major pre-finals headache for Hawthorn and will be the main talking point from Port's 16.12 (108) to 13.8 (86) victory until the Match Review Panel releases its findings on Monday.
Asked whether he was concerned Hodge is facing a stint on the sidelines, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said: "Just run the tape at full speed, (it's a) hard game".
Any penalty for Hodge, who was suspended for three weeks for striking early this season, could be reduced by Wingard staying on the field and starring in the second half.
The brilliant forward snared four match-defining goals, taking his season tally past the half-century milestone for the first time, as he combined with Robbie Gray and namesake Sam Gray to power Port to its second win over the Hawks this season.
Speaking on radio station 3AW after the game, Wingard said he wasn't disappointed in Hodge for the bump.
"I've got the utmost respect for 'Hodgey', he's one of the greats of the game," Wingard said.
"It was just one of those things. I was a bit clumsy myself and obviously he just followed through. That's the way he plays – he's a hard player, and I've got so much respect for him. It's just one of those unfortunate things. You just get hit and you've just got to take it and wear it. "
The Power watched their hard-fought 11-point half-time lead whittled away to a solitary point at the final change, but stemmed the oncoming Hawks tide in the final term to run out with a deserved away triumph.
Brendon Ah Chee went from zero to hero in the frantic dying stages, making amends for an inexplicable handball to a one-on-one contest in the goalsquare when he could have had a set shot by slotting a steadying running goal minutes later to seal the win.
"We match up pretty well (against Hawthorn)," Power coach Ken Hinkley said.
"They're a great side, they're a fantastic team, they play a hard tough physical football, but we do seem to match up OK against them and we know they're an enormous challenge.
"So it’s pretty significant tonight to come to Melbourne and be able to beat the premiership favourites."
Hawthorn's loss – only its second from the past 12 games – makes its equation for a three-peat potentially much more difficult, with at least one looming trip to Perth during finals.
The Hawks remain stuck in third spot, and could slip six points behind the Eagles in second spot after this weekend with two games to play. West Coast plays the Western Bulldogs at Domain Stadium on Sunday.
As good as the Power's 10th win for 2015 was, it will serve as more frustration for their legion of fans after a season that promised so much for last year's preliminary finalists.
After a similarly underwhelming year, Paddy Ryder again showed his best form in the absence of Matthew Lobbe, with his athleticism too much for Ben McEvoy to handle without David Hale by his side.
Hale (general soreness) was pulled pre-game, with the Hawks bringing in another runner in Taylor Duryea to combat the Power's pace.
Clarkson had good reason to be worried, with the visitors' run and gun style immediately forcing the Hawks on the back foot.
The Power dominated the opening exchanges, with the Gray boys running rampant.
Robbie had 13 possessions for the first term, but wasted two gilt-edged opportunities in front of goal, while Sam bobbed up with 12 touches as the Power raced to a 14-point lead at quarter time.
Port engineered their overwhelming inside 50 count (20-9) by risking moving the ball through the centre corridor, but the Hawks tightened up after the first break as the match turned into an arm-wrestle.
When Hamish Hartlett snapped truly, the Power had chiseled a game-high 24-point lead midway through the second term.
Remarkably, the reigning premiers, ranked first for scoring and disposals this season, went goalless for more than half an hour, and were overwhelmingly outpossessed (minus-58) to half time.
Usual suspects Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell and Isaac Smith willed themselves into the contest, as tagger Liam Shiels handcuffed Robbie Gray and the tide eventually began to turn brown and gold.
With more to play for, it seemed inevitable the Hawks would lift themselves to a crucial win, but Port held firm and was never headed as it notched a fourth win from its past five matches.
"They looked the hungrier, they looked the sharper, they moved the ball better than we did, they got their goals easier than we did and they deserved their victory on that basis," Clarkson said.
Hawthorn's costly loss was just its second in its past 15 matches at Etihad Stadium. Picture: AFL Media
HAWTHORN 2.3 5.6 11.7 13.8 (86)
PORT ADELAIDE 4.5 7.5 11.8 16.12 (108)
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Roughead 2, Suckling 2, Rioli 2, Shiels, Lewis, Burgoyne, Puopolo
Port Adelaide: Wingard 4, Monfries 3, Schulz 3, Neade 2, Hartlett, White, Ah Chee, S. Gray
Hawthorn: Gibson, Lewis, Burgoyne, Smith, Mitchell, Gunston
Port Adelaide: R.Gray, Ryder, Wingard, S.Gray, Westhoff, Pittard, Hombsch
Hawthorn: Hale (general soreness) replaced in selected side by Duryea
Port Adelaide: Nil
Hawthorn: Brian Lake replaced by Billy Hartung in the third quarter
Port Adelaide: John Butcher replaced by Kane Mitchell in the final quarter
Umpires: Bannister, Stevic, Findlay
Official crowd: 28,657 at Etihad Stadium