SUNDAY'S match between Hawthorn and Adelaide at the University of Tasmania Stadium brings together two clubs that have taken vastly different paths to rebooting their lists.

One has gone about a traditional rebuild – culling senior players and investing heavily at the draft - while the other is in the midst of what can politely be described as a faux rebuild.

We'll come back to the Crows later, but let's start with the Hawks, a club that, in fairness, played finals just three years ago.

Perhaps it's only fair to compare the clubs from the end of 2018 onwards, but to get the full picture of Hawthorn's list, you have to go two years further back.

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When the Hawks bowed out to eventual premier Western Bulldogs in a 2016 semi-final, it marked the end of a tilt at a remarkable fourth straight flag.

Rejuvenating their list

Although there was clearly no thought of rebuilding at that stage – nor should there have been – Hawthorn identified a need to rejuvenate its ageing list.

Premiership favourites Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis were moved on, and in came emerging midfield stars Tom Mitchell from Sydney and Jaeger O'Meara from Gold Coast.

Tom Mitchell and O'Meara were just 23 and 22, respectively, at the time.

Getting them came at a cost, parting ways with that year's first-round draft pick and the first two picks of the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.

Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O'Meara in 2017, shortly after joining Hawthorn. Picture: AFL Photos

The Hawks were very much in a 'win now' mode.

They also recruited Ricky Henderson and Ty Vickery via free agency and used just two selections at the draft – both picks coming in the 70s.

A difficult 2017 did not slow down the push for experience, using a second-round selection to get Jarman Impey from Port Adelaide.

A year later – an overachieving fourth place followed by a straight-sets finals exit – kept the fire for another flag burning at Waverley Park.

The Wingard deal

This was a genuine crossroads for the Hawks. Do they persist with the team that competed so well and back development and recruiting to get them in the premiership conversation, or continue to top up with readymade players?

Enter Chad Wingard.

The Port Adelaide dynamo had played 147 games, was still just 25 and a two-time All-Australian.

The cost was significant, giving up impressive third-year defender Ryan Burton as well as 2018's first- and second-round draft picks.

00:54 Mins
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Wingard wizardry on his right foot

Chad Wingard conjures a brilliant snap on his non-preferred foot to inch the Hawks one step closer

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In the past two seasons of missing finals, Hawthorn has begun to take some higher-end talent from the draft.

Maybe it was a year or two later than many thought it should have happened, but it was now time to inherit some teenagers.

It has still added now-retired forward Jon Patton, Sam Frost, Kyle Hartigan and Tom Phillips – all relatively cheaply – while maintaining all of its draft stock in the process.

So how is Alastair Clarkson using his list in 2021, coming off five wins last season?

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Last week's team that lost heavily to Melbourne had just three players aged 21 or under – Changkuoth Jiath, Jacob Koschitzke and Dylan Moore.

James Worpel and Harry Morrison are also integral young pieces, while Will Day (ankle) is a future star but unavailable.

"The exciting part about it for coaches is you don't know whether it's going to happen in 12 months or whether it's going to be like Melbourne where they've rebooted a lot of times over the last 10-15 years," Clarkson told Fox Footy last week.

"That's the theatre of the game and it's the excitement of what brings us coaches to want to coach.

"The investment is all about can you do it as quickly as you possibly can because there's no ceiling on these young men."

Hawthorn's Dylan Moore celebrates a goal against Melbourne in round five on April 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

So will we see Mitch Lewis, Finn Maginness, Josh Morris, Tyler Brockman and Denver Grainer-Barras and Seamus Mitchell (when they overcome injuries) more in 2021?

Look at the progression for Jiath since given an opportunity, adding genuine excitement and a different element to the Hawks' mix with his dare from defence.

How the Crows have done it

Compare that to Adelaide's approach.

After the disaster that was 2018, the Crows made a clear decision to start loading up with teenage talent and offloading experienced players they felt did not fit long-term.

In the past three off-seasons, Adelaide has farewelled Mitch McGovern, Eddie Betts, Sam Jacobs, Hugh Greenwood, Alex Keath, Josh Jenkins and did not match St Kilda's free agent offer for Brad Crouch.

In the same period, they've drafted 10 players in the top 30, including three in the top 10.

And Matthew Nicks is playing them, with Ned McHenry, Lachie Sholl, Will Hamill, Harry Schoenberg and Sam Berry already regular members in 2021.

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Schoenberg salutes after two party goals

Harry Schoenberg ends his game with two consecutive goals, as the Crows overrun the Roos comfortably in the last

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Plus, key-positions talents Fisher McAsey and Riley Thilthorpe are still in the wings.

Perhaps it's Clarkson's coaching genius that allows him to maximise his team's talent and keep the Hawks believing they are closer than they are?

Maybe Adelaide's exciting start to the season will fizzle out?

Which method proves the right way to rebuild will probably not be known for many years, but it's clear the Hawks are currently like a youngster on the edge of a freezing pool, dipping a toe in but too scared to take the plunge.

It sure would be nice for them to dive in, embrace the unknown of playing their youth, and then double down at the draft the next few years.

Time will tell.

01:49 Mins
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Match Previews R6: Hawthorn v Adelaide

Sportsbet's Nathan Brown and Matthew Richardson preview the game between the Hawks and Crows at the University of Tasmania Stadium

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