Hawthorn veteran Jordan Lewis admits some hardness is missing from the AFL premiers' game.
While the Hawks have a 4-2 record, they suddenly look vulnerable in the wake of last Saturday's 75-point walloping from GWS.
Club great Jason Dunstall, one of the key figures in the creation of coach Alastair Clarkson's dynasty, doubts they can make it four flags in a row.
There were warning signs before the GWS hammering, with Hawthorn scrambling for three successive three-point wins.
Also, captain Luke Hodge is now out of action for about six weeks with a knee injury.
The extent of the GWS loss - their biggest losing margin since 2009 - has coincided with big dips in their contested ball work during matches.
"What we're seeing now is we're probably getting smashed in quarters - I mean going down 30 contested possessions in a quarter," Lewis told AFL360.
"(That's) unlike us. If we do lose, we usually lose by a few and not by that many.
"There's a certain side of our game that needs to get a little bit harder."
Lewis himself - one of Hawthorn's fiercest competitors - is also struggling for form.
"Everyone in this day and age is impatient - we're impatient - and if you don't see the results straight away, it gets harder and harder,:" he said.
"You just have to stick at it and hopefully something comes your way.
"By all means, I need to play a lot better than I have."
But Lewis also defended the Hawks when it was suggested they were not being competitive enough.
"We've lost to two sides out of six, so you ask the four sides who we've beaten, how they've gone," he said.
"I can't disagree with you, but we've played some good sides and we need to step up every single week.
"Sometimes you're going to have down patches, you just hope they don't last for the whole season.
"That's what we've been good at - we've been able to rectify it before finals and before we lose too many games."
The Hawks' match against Richmond on Friday night is no guaranteed win.
Richmond have won three of their last four matches against the Hawks and are desperate to turn around their poor start to the season.
But Lewis made it clear the Hawks are stung by the GWS match.
"We hate losing like we did on the weekend," he said.
"We got a little bit embarrassed."