Hawthorn must make the most of its remaining premiership players as it builds a new team capable of winning silverware.
That's the view of head of development Sam Mitchell, the man many tout as the AFL's most promising senior coach in waiting.
A four-time premiership star who helped lead the Hawks to seven consecutive finals series before departing in 2016, the 38-year-old says while a rebuild takes time, the club can do better than its 2-6 start to season 2021.
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"We're not happy with where we're at as a club - it's a really proud club and we want to find our way back up the ladder," Mitchell said.
"There's certainly a lot of room for improvement in what we're doing and we're building towards that, we'd like to get as fast as we can up the ladder, but that's going to take some time.
"Our challenge is to continue to find small wins, making sure the [youth in the team] are making progression while we've got some really strong senior players around, the Liam Shiels, and Jack Gunstons and Ben McEvoys.
"While we've got those guys to guide us we want our young guys to get as much exposure to AFL footy as we can and fast-track their development."
While the Hawks are set to miss finals for the fourth time in five years, time and effort is being put into the side's youth.
Mitchell is happy with the progress of 21-year-old defender Changkuoth Jiath - "he's been able to perform reasonably consistently which is really difficult when you're a younger guy" - while Harry Morrison is growing in belief and output as a senior player.
After two years looking after the Hawks' midfield, Mitchell is working with the side's first-to-fifth-year players and coaching VFL affiliate Box Hill.
He's enjoyed the platform to work with players on a more holistic level and has led the side to a 2-2 start ahead of Saturday's Arden St clash with North Melbourne.
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"Working with the development side of things at Hawthorn has been really good," Mitchell said.
"As a midfield coach you're working on Xs and Os and the fine details of football play, but certainly in my role as head of development you're dealing with a lot more players and lots of different issues around how to get the best out of them in the bigger picture rather than just in football.
"Getting to coach [Box Hill] on match day and be part of their development as a crew and a group together - as well as the amateur guys who I just love working with - the VFL program is fantastic.
"Being able to shape all of those things and build your own programs and develop your own people has been really good fun."
- What: AFL round 9
- Who: Hawthorn v North Melbourne
- Where: UTAS Stadium
- When: Saturday, 2.10pm
- Tickets: Available at ticketmaster.com.au