It took Buddy Franklin until the last quarter to lance the boil but when it burst the result - a 15.17 (107) to 13.10 (88) win - a could not have been more spectacular for Sydney.
Franklin's first match against his former club was heading well and truly into nightmare territory until he exploded when his team needed him most.
On a night where what could go wrong seemed to go wrong for Franklin, he reversed his fortunes with a match-winning burst worthy of a man with a seven-figure pay cheque.
His two goals in the final quarter had multiple effects. Firstly, it arrested his horror run and that of his team. It served also to halt Hawthorn's charge and turned imminent defeat into victory.
Franklin's return of 21 possessions, 10 marks and 2.7 in front of goal reflected a man who could have made the night truly his own.
Truth be told, the scene could not have been better set for Franklin to knock off his old club at his first try.
Already without their former captain, Sam Mitchell, and Norm Smith Medallist, Brian Lake, Hawthorn, fielding only 14 of their premiership 22, then lost Luke Hodge before the first bounce and Cyril Rioli minutes into the second half.
It was supposed to be all about Franklin but it was Sydney's other big name recruit, Kurt Tippett, who shone early.
But for all the cash the Swans have splashed in the past 18 months, some of their familiar old faces remain the driving forces for the red and the white.
This was again evident in the Swans' 19-point win over the undermanned reigning premiers, a victory driven by some heroic performances from Dan Hannebery (40 possessions), Josh Kennedy (35) and Jarrad McVeigh (25).
Franklin had an immediate impact in his first game against his old club, bowling over Jordan Lewis at the first bounce the intercepting his former teammate's free kick.
It was the opening gambit of a frenetic 45 minutes during which the Swans should have had the Hawks dead and buried.
Seldom have the Swans played as fluently this season against high-quality opposition.
Their All Australian midfield quartet of Dan Hannebery, Jarrad McVeigh, Josh Kennedy and Kieren Jack had the ball on a string.
Hannebery, in particular, was brilliant, gathering 15 possessions in the first quarter as the Swans repeatedly surged into their forward 50 where their tall timber proved influential - none more so than Tippett.
It seemed hard to believe Tippett was playing his first game of the season. Whether it was the hapless Kyle Cheney or Josh Gibson, Tippett had his opponent's measure.
He bagged two goals from his two shots at goal. Franklin had four behinds from his four, while Adam Goodes too was lively, setting up a goal for Jack with some clever play at ground level.
But for all the Swans' dominance their lead midway through the second quarter was 26 points, which did not represent value for money.
Never give a sucker an even break let alone the reigning premiers, even one so undermanned.
Jordan Lewis lifted, so too Grant Birchall and suddenly it was the likes of Brad Hill, Cyril Rioli, Paul Puopolo and Luke Breust who found space.
But whereas the Swans frittered away numerous opportunities at goal, the Hawks made the most of theirs.
The Swans' lead had dwindled to seven points by half time. By the 18-minute mark of the third term, their lead at evaporated - so too Franklin's confidence.
Although there could be no faulting Franklin's effort he seemed to have the Midas touch - for the brown and gold. At one stage he had the unflattering numbers of seven behinds and five free kicks against.
The flow of the game was completely with the Hawks when Shaun Burgoyne stretched their lead beyond a goal.
Enter Sydney's multi-million dollar forwards. Tippett's fourth, scrounged on the shadow of three-quarter time, arrested their slide before Franklin burst to life.
Under enormous pressure, Franklin kicked his first from just inside 50 then had the crowd in raptures after dribbling one through a vacant square while being tackled to the ground. There would be no stopping the Swans from here.