HAWTHORN 6.2 11.7 21.9 27.13 (175)
ST KILDA 2.3 2.3 3.4 4.6 (30)
Goals: Hawthorn: J Gunston 4 J Roughead 4 L Breust 4 R Schoenmakers 4 C Rioli 2 D Hale 2 P Puopolo 2 S Burgoyne 2 B Hartung B Hill J Lewis. St Kilda: J Billings J Steven L Montagna R Stanley.
Best: Hawthorn: S Burgoyne J Roughead J Gibson G Birchall L Hodge L Breust B Hill P Puopolo. St Kilda: J Billings L Montagna L Hayes.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Dean Margetts, Robert O'Gorman.
Official Crowd: 32,924 at MCG.
What's the difference between Hawthorn and St Kilda? We could say that one team stayed in Tasmania and the other left; that one has far better stadium arrangements, and that, consequently, one has cash and assets and the other doesn't.
As of Saturday, the difference between the clubs that once shared Waverley Park also stands at 145 points.
As you'd hope, that margin is the largest in the history of these clubs, which is quite remarkable given that a.) teams – Hawthorn and Geelong excepted – don't score as much these days and; b.) Hawthorn was supreme in the '80s and the Saints won four consecutive wooden spoons from 1983-1986. It was a result that might feature in equalisation discussions.
There haven't been many scores greater than 145 points this season, much less a margin of that magnitude. Defensive tactics, such as the sandbagging deployed by Paul Roos, make such a margin improbable in 2014.
Yet the mother of all blow-outs happened at the MCG, and it happened in a match in which rain fell for roughly half the two hours. It is extraordinary to consider that this same Hawthorn team was almost beaten by an Essendon side (round two) that the Saints overran a fortnight ago.
But if we have gleaned anything from this season and the previous two years, it's that the Hawks have an unmatched ability to butcher the opposition and run up cricket scores. They are a pitiless gang, who don't permit the kind of face-saving that Collingwood afforded Carlton in the final quarter on Friday night. Once the kicking begins, they keep going.
Of the many records busted, and of all the frightening numbers, this was probably the most revealing: at the 25-minute mark of the second quarter, the Saints had their first forward (50-metre) entry for the quarter. By match's end, they had just 25 forward entries to Hawthorn's 68. Some teams squander this territorial advantage – not the Hawks, whose Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust, Jack Gunston and, surprisingly, Ryan Schoenmakers each booted four goals.
Having Brian Lake back in the side, and with Josh Gibson manning Nick Riewoldt for most of the game, the Hawks didn't need Shoenmakers in defence. So, in his return to the seniors after a 12-month absence, the ''Show'' was given an attractive new job description of goal-kicker, which came in tandem with the unveiling of his hipster Samurai hairstyle. Perhaps the Hawks figured he wouldn't get sufficient work in defence.
Another frightening fact: Sam Mitchell was subbed out with a hamstring injury at quarter time. The Hawks didn't need their most productive midfielder to have complete territorial control and ownership of the ball. Lake also went off with a calf injury in the third term.
Skipper Luke Hodge stepped up in Mitchell's absence, while Shaun Burgoyne was among the most prolific ball winners. Gibson was rampant, especially in the first quarter, and there wasn't much Riewoldt could do about it because he was outnumbered whenever the ball went near him – and to get near it, he had to get up the field, where goals aren't scored.
You would think a team smashed by 24 goals would have been slaughtered at the contest. Umm, not exactly. Hawthorn ''won'' the contested ball by 146 to 135, not much of a gap.
You would imagine then that the dismembered team didn't lay a tackle. Well, no, St Kilda out-tackled the Hawks by 73 to 57.
So, we come back to the opening question: what was the difference?
Skill level is the starting point. Ability to spread would be next, followed by defensive positioning. Hawthorn, as we know, can keep possession of the ball like no other team. That it rained in the second quarter only accentuated the difference in class. The uncontested ball differential was 149, of which most were short, staccato kicks to a brown and gold jumper.
Hawthorn kept possession. The Saints couldn't move the ball from out of defence, couldn't get it past the midfield often, and on those occasions when it was in their scoring area, were outnumbered by Gibson and his cohorts.
Grant Birchall and Matt Suckling played higher than usual – that is, where the ball was. Birchall, indeed, kicked the ball inside 50 metres six times; Suckling seven.
Alan Richardson reckoned the Saints failed to apply pressure and didn't cope with it, which was correct on both counts, despite the tackles. The greater failing was in combating Hawthorn's skill and retaining possession.
If the second quarter was ugly for the Saints, worse was to come after half-time. The Hawks piled on 10.2 to 1.1 in the third term, when they scored with ludicrous ease, highlighted by consecutive Cyril Rioli give-and-get goals on the run, and the unselfish waxing between Breust and Roughead, one donating a goal to the other within a couple of minutes.
Leigh Montagna resisted by winning the ball, as did Lenny Hayes, to a degree. Jack Steven tried, too. But these individual acts of resistance weren't sufficient to halt the ruthless march of the pitiless terminators.