In an ominous sign for the rest of the AFL competition, Richmond superstar Dustin Martin has roared back to his brilliant best in a 36-point win over an injury-depleted Hawthorn at the MCG.
The Brownlow Medal winner was influential from the outset on Sunday, finishing with 37 possessions and two goals in a 14.11 (95) to 8.11 (59) win in front of 64,936 fans.
Martin hasn't exactly been in poor form over the first eight rounds of the season, but he looked to have returned to the stellar heights of his record-breaking 2017 campaign against the Hawks.
"I think his last three weeks have been pretty solid, but Dusty when you look back at the history of him, he probably starts the season a little bit slower," Damien Hardwick said.
"But then he starts to come into the game and starts to dominate.
"I thought he was outstanding.
"He looked really quick and fast around the clearances today and looked really good up forward as well."
With players of the calibre of Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt sidelined for much of the early part of the season, the Tigers are in good shape with a 6-3 record following Sunday's win.
Hardwick's men are fifth and well-positioned for a crack at the top four in the second half of the season as their stars return.
"We've really grown and evolved as a side, which is really exciting," Hardwick said of the season to date.
"The pleasing thing as a coaching group is that the players have grabbed those opportunities with both hands."
The coach wasn't just talking about younger players like Noah Balta and Sydney Stack, but also the likes of Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin who have thrived in different roles.
All four were important against Hawthorn, as was Bachar Houli with 35 possessions.
It was a tough day for the Hawks, whose inconsistent season sees them 11th with a 4-5 record.
"There's enough encouragement in these performances for us to say that we're not too far away, but we want to be there right now," Alastair Clarkson said.
"And that's the hard part for (us).
"We could be better and challenge but probably in reality against good sides like today where your polish needs to be pretty good we're just found wanting a little bit.
"We just need more time."
The Hawks lost star defender James Frawley to hamstring soreness before the match, then had to make do without Ben McEvoy (ankle) and Mitchell Lewis (concussion) for most of the second half.
Ricky Henderson (30) and Jaeger O'Meara (29) worked hard for Hawthorn, with Luke Breust their top scorer with three majors.
Australian Associated Press