WHEN THE AFL released the 2013 draw last October and handed Hawthorn an opening seven weeks that featured each of the finalists from the previous year, Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox couldn't help but label it "the draw from hell".

Many at Hawthorn would have been satisfied with a 4-3 start. 5-2 would have been seen as a tremendous start. 6-1? An absolute bonus.

So here we are then, with the Hawks sitting beautifully at 6-1, with the scalps of West Coast and Adelaide on the road, Collingwood, North Melbourne, Fremantle and finally, on Saturday night at the MCG, the Sydney Swans, victors over the Hawks in the Grand Final last year.

Which explains the deep satisfaction in the Hawthorn rooms after the 37-point win over the Swans.

"Full credit to our players," said coach Alastair Clarkson afterwards. "We had a really tough summer knowing we couldn’t ease ourselves into the season. It puts us in a good position at this time, although we know we have a long way to go.

"(The draw) was always going to be a challenge … we can't do anything other than take each opponent as it comes. We worked very hard over the summer to get to this position."

To get to this stage, the Hawks might have played their best sustained spell of football since the 2008 finals, when they belted the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda in the lead-up finals, then trumped Geelong to win the premiership.

They're not entirely satisfied though. Skipper Luke Hodge said Clarkson demands perfection and there was plenty to dislike about the North Melbourne and Adelaide wins that preceded this one.

"It's pleasing to get to 6-1 and it helps set up the season," Hodge said. "We knew we had to be switched on to get to 6-1, particularly against such quality opposition."

Hodge said he noted the draw when it came out, but was wary of looking too far ahead other than each opponent at a time. "It's a cliché, but you can only look ahead one week at a time."

The Hawks now get a reprieve with an Aurora Stadium game against Greater Western Sydney and then a pair of MCG games against Gold Coast and Melbourne, before their mid-season bye.

Geelong laid the blueprint two seasons back when a raft of early wins allowed the Cats to selectively rest players over the middle and latter stages of the season and the Hawks can now consider whether youngsters such as Bradley Hill can have a spell in the next few weeks ahead of a long and arduous second half of the season.

And as Clarkson noted, this time last year the Hawks were 4-3. They would then slump to 5-4, which made their effort to finish the home and away season on top of the ladder all the more impressive.

It might have been too much. "We were playing catch-up for much of last year, but this time around we are much better positioned."

"We'll be looking to play some really strong footy to set ourselves up for after the bye," added Hodge.