IT IS not all gloom and doom at Hawthorn, with coach Alastair Clarkson confident the reigning premier is better placed than it was this time last year.
The Hawks suffered their worst loss since 2009 last Saturday when they went down to Greater Western Sydney by 75 points at Spotless Stadium.
The defeat continued the Hawks' unconvincing 4-2 start to 2016, which has included a 30-point loss to Geelong in round one, an dominant 46-point win over West Coast in round two and then three consecutive wins by just three points over the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and Adelaide respectively.
This form line has some commentators querying the Hawks' ability to win a record-equalling fourth straight flag this season, with club great Jason Dunstall ruling them out of premiership calculations on Fox Footy on Monday night.
But Clarkson told reporters on Thursday the GWS loss was not necessarily a sign that the Hawks' 2016 premiership defence had hit the skids.
"This time last year we were three wins and three losses, the only thing that was different was that we had a better percentage than we've got at the present time," Clarkson said.
"But we're actually in a better position this time this year.
"We need to play better, we don't want to dig a hole and put our head in the sand and not think that the competition is catching up to us a bit.
"But we think some of our best footy is still ahead of us this year."