Hawthorn are winless after three rounds of an AFL season for the first time since 2005 after Gold Coast humbled the once-feared team by 86 points.
The Suns were in disarray at 0-2 with former skipper Gary Ablett at the centre of a storm of criticism, but they romped to the largest winning margin in the club’s history and their first victory over the Hawks.
Defiant coach Alastair Clarkson, who was in his first season at the club in 2005, says the last-placed Hawks haven’t lost their winning identity.
“Right at the moment we’re just struggling a bit, but I’ve got confidence in our coaching group and our club,” Clarkson said after the 21.13 (139) to 7.11 (53) result.
“These moments are just events – they’re not symbolic of us losing our identity as a winning side.
“We’ve been a strong side for a long period of time and we’re just going through a tough patch at the minute.”
Hawthorn are last with a percentage of just 63.3, but Clarkson doesn’t believe his side’s 2017 campaign is doomed.
“Our season is not shot by any stretch but we need to get going a little bit in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“It’s going to be harder from here (to make the finals) but we’re up for the fight.
“We’ve got to be pretty pragmatic about it as well … you’re not going to be shining in the sun all the time.”
Crows fly to top of the ladder
At the other end of the premiership ladder, Adelaide are sitting on top of the pile as one of three remaining unbeaten sides.
The Crows knocked cross-town rivals Port Adelaide off the top rung with a 17-point win in a pulsating top-of-the-table clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
Adelaide were one of eight unbeaten teams entering round three but second-placed Richmond and Geelong in third were the only other sides able to maintain a perfect record.
The Tigers inflicted West Coast’s first loss of the season after Dustin Martin starred with 40 possessions and two goals in an 11-point win at the MCG.
The ultra-accurate Cats had kicked 16 goals in a row at one stage as they handed wasteful Melbourne their first defeat – a 20.6 (126) to 13.19 (97) result at Etihad Stadium.
The Bulldogs lost their unbeaten status when Fremantle stunned the reigning premiers 13.11 (89) to 10.13 (73) at Domain Stadium.
Essendon were the last undefeated side to fall and did so as Carlton notched their first win of the season 7.15 (57) to 6.6 (42) in a rain-swept encounter at the MCG on Sunday.
St Kilda and Collingwood also recorded their first wins of the season, defeating Brisbane and Sydney respectively.
The Swans slumped to an 0-3 start with the loss, joining the Hawks and North Melbourne who were thumped by Greater Western Sydney 15.19 (109) to 10.7 (67) in Hobart.