Positioned atop the AFL ladder after a 51-point thumping of the Bombers, the Hawks were searching for their first win in Adelaide since 1994.
Ruckman Brent Renouf and utility Stuart Dew returned to face the Crows, while Tom Murphy was also a late inclusion for key defender Trent Croad, who missed with a hip injury.
Adelaide meanwhile also sat inside the top four with eight wins from the first eleven rounds and were eager to make amends after going down to the Hawks earlier in the year by 44 points.
QT: The Crows got the jump early with goals to Bernie Vince and Luke Jericho in the opening five minutes, before the Hawks bounced back via Michael Osbourne and Cyril Rioli.
Spearhead Lance Franklin was inaccurate early, missing three first-quarter shots as Adelaide took a slim one-point margin into the quarter-time break.
HT: Tyson Edwards and Richard Douglas ensured the Crows again had the opening two goals early in the term, before forward pair Mark Williams and Jarryd Roughead both slotted their first, reducing the margin to just three points.
However, the Hawks were given cause for concern as Franklin was booked for a high, front-on bump on Crow defender Michael Doughty, while they also lost midfielder Chance Bateman to a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile Williams managed to slot his second from a tight angle against the boundary line – putting the Hawks in front for the first time – before a late major to Crow Jason Porplyzia saw the home side head into the main break two points ahead.
3QT: Skipper Sam Mitchell got the Hawks running with his first for the evening before Douglas found the reply with his second, snatching back the lead for the Crows.
Two goals in a minute for Jason Porplyzia saw the margin increase to thirteen-points, but it would be Roughead who would answer the call for the Hawks with two successive goals of his own, reducing the difference to just three points and setting up a nail-biting final term.
FT: Edwards landed the first to edge Adelaide further ahead, before Franklin finally bobbed up for his first after five behinds, goaling from a set shot outside 50.
The two sides continued to trade goals, with Osbourne providing one of the highlights of the night as he nailed a long, running goal from inside the centre square.
But two points down, the ball was sent into the Hawks’ forward 50 late in the final term with Luke Hodge receiving a handball before baulking around one opponent, steadying, and slotting the goal from 25 metres that would put the Hawks in front.
With great composure, the Hawks managed to run out the final stages and hold on for a four-point victory, successfully claiming their first win in Adelaide in fourteen years.
HAWTHORN 2.3 5.5 8.7 11.10 (76)
ADELAIDE 2.4 5.7 8.10 10.12 (72)
Hawthorn: Roughead 3, Williams, Osborne 2, Rioli, Mitchell, Franklin, Hodge.
Adelaide: Porplyzia 3, Edwards, Jericho, Douglas 2, Vince
Hawthorn: Roughead, Mitchell, Osborne, Morton, Hodge.
Adelaide: Bock, Thompson, Edwards, van Berlo, Vince, Porplyzia, Johncock
Hawthorn: Bateman (hamstring), Clarke (hamstring), Croad (hip) replaced in side by Murphy
Adelaide: Bassett (shoulder), Reilly (hamstring) replaced in side by Otten
Reports: Franklin reported by umpire Vozzo for making high contact on Doughty in the second quarter.
Umpires: Vozzo, Wenn, Mollison
Official crowd: 44,559 at AAMI Stadium