LANCE Franklin was always going to be the star of the show, even when slotting back into a side that had just demolished a preliminary finalist in the season-opener.

But internally, the Swans weren’t as confident that the superstar forward would be able to live up to his usual top-billing in his first game in 581 days.

SWANS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats

"Our expectations were very low today, with Lance," Sydney coach John Longmire said. 

"We just wanted him to come back in and play a role and hopefully things work out for you. 

"But he’s not a bad player, and the good thing is that he feels good now [after the match]." 

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Enjoy the best of Bud in long-awaited return

Lance Franklin is back to footy at last, bagging three goals in a pleasing comeback

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While the Swans sometimes appeared to resort to being a bit too Buddy-conscious, Longmire was happy with the balance of balls going to Franklin and his fellow forward targets.

"The big fella comes out, he stretches his arm out, and if you’re a young bloke and you’re looking there, he tends to draw your attention," he said.

"He’s not always the best option, but that’s OK. They haven’t trained with him a lot, or played with him a lot, so we’ll work through that."

Franklin lined up on Jordon Butts for much of the match, and although the superstar forward finished with three goals, the four-game defender was competitive and spoiled well throughout.

When Franklin did get away from Butts, it was usually on the end of stunning Swans transitions, especially when they looked to move the ball quickly through the corridor.

"No doubt the man on the mark [rule] has made the difference," Franklin told Fox Footy after the match. 

"The leading forward is back, that’s for sure."

Another key forward was certainly back in top form at the other end of the field, where a rejuvenated Taylor Walker kicked six goals.

While Walker appears to be the sort of power forward that would benefit from an open style of footy and faster ball movement, his goals against Sydney mostly came from manic forward pressure and tackling.

The former captain has already kicked 11 goals for the season, which is just four shy of his entire total in 2020.

"I think he had five or six tackles inside the forward 50. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Tex, but I think that may have broken the amount of tackles he’s had in the forward 50 over his career," coach Matthew Nicks said.

"He’s done a lot of work on that, and he’s been doing that while working with younger guys to make them better footballers, and it’s making him a better footballer. 

"He was a real positive for us out of the game."