ALASTAIR Clarkson insists Hawthorn's rebuild is firmly on track despite the Hawks falling to the worst start in a season under his reign.
The Hawks coughed up a 32-point lead to bottom-placed North Melbourne last week to sit at 2-7 for the first time in Clarkson's 17 years at the helm.
The four-time premiership coach, who holds a contract until the end of 2022, was quick to highlight previous examples of quick Hawks fightbacks while building optimism for the current stocks.
"At the moment it looks like it's slower and we're treading water, but we know where we're going and we've just got to keep trying to find the personnel and the method that will get us there," Clarkson said ahead of Saturday's date with Carlton.
"It doesn't stagger us in terms of where we knew we were at as a footy club and what we've got to do.
"These things can turn around. I quite often talk about Hawthorn 2010, we'd won the flag in 2008 and by round seven, 2010, we were one win and six losses. The blowtorch was applied to the club big time then because we were expected to be in the top two, let alone being second bottom.
"But the injection of young talent, (Luke) Breust, (Ben) Stratton, (Paul) Puopolo and Isaac (Smith) and all these kids came in and no one really gave them or us much of a chance that they were going to emerge into being great players for us.
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"How quickly can it happen? Well we were playing in a prelim final 18 months later. Right at the present time, because we can't get (Jack) Gunston and (James) Sicily … and (Denver) Grainger-Barras and (Will) Day aren't on the park, it's a little bit hard to see … but we live in an optimistic environment where we're planning on it being quicker rather than longer."
The Hawks have lost senior premiership players Puopolo, Smith, Stratton and James Frawley, plus Tom Scully, Ricky Henderson and Jon Patton since the end of last year but have been the older team on average in five of their nine games this season.
They remain steadfast on going to the draft for the next two seasons before a quick resurgence as soon as 2023.
Clarkson said the "blowtorch" had been applied internally after the loss to the Roos, with the focus on a midfield featuring Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara, James Worpel and Ben McEvoy which was upstaged by their younger opponents.
McEvoy is likely to spend extended periods in defence (as he did in 2020) or attack against the Blues with 211cm ruckman Ned Reeves to debut after impressing in the VFL.
Young defender Damon Greaves is into the starting 22 for the first time this year, while Michael Hartley and Tim O'Brien have been dropped.