The attention on Lance Franklin's diminished scoreboard impact this season has unearthed Hawthorn's grander plans to underpin its premiership challenge with a new equal opportunity forward system.
Champion Data statistics show there has been a seismic and deliberate shift at Hawthorn to become less Franklin conscious and that has been a significant factor in his diminished influence.
The Hawks are kicking the ball to Franklin inside the forward 50 less now than they have in the past seven seasons - since 2006, the superstar's second year in the AFL and the last time he did not win the club's goalkicking award.
Many commentators believe Franklin has battled a form slump in the first eight rounds because he went goalless in consecutive games for the first time in his career and has been kept to three goals or less on another three occasions.
While he has kicked the same number of goals (20), his scoring shots (53, down to 35) and marks inside 50 (25, down to 16) are way down on what they were at the same stage last season, as well as scoreboard impact, which measures the points a player creates from goals, points and score assists.
The bare facts are the Hawks are not kicking the ball to Franklin as much in an effort to create a more versatile and potent forward half.
Franklin has been the target of 27per cent of Hawthorn's forward-50 entries - still the most of any player on the team - but a significant drop from 40per cent last year.
That Franklin is playing further up the ground this year - only 39 per cent of his disposals have come inside the forward 50, compared with 47per cent last year - has also been a factor.
Franklin said those who were judging him on his scoreboard impact had missed the point: that he was now ''playing a role''.
''I've played some all right football. I think I can get judged too much on goals kicked, but I think the spread of goalkickers for our club this year has been great,'' he said on Tuesday.
''It's not just one avenue to goal, there are various avenues which are good for everyone.''
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said he realised the team had to change the way it attacked, and that Franklin might have to play a reduced role for the greater good.
''We looked at that over the summer, and we don't want to take a great player like 'Bud' out of the contest,'' he said. ''But we were just too predictable the way we went forward, and it's meant that we've had a much greater spread of goalkickers [this season].''
The move to a more complete forward structure has meant players such as Jarryd Roughead (21 goals) and Luke Breust (14), Cyril Rioli (12) and Jack Gunston (11), have flourished.
Roughead is nearing career-best form and is not only leading the team's goalkicking with 21, he also tops scoreboard impact.
At the same point last year, Franklin led that category with 28 points a game. This season, the dual Coleman medallist sits fourth with 20 points, and there is a far greater spread with Roughead (23), Rioli (22) and Gunston (22) ahead of him.
At least for now, the change in direction is paying off from a team perspective. The Hawks, sitting on top at 7-1, rank No.1 for goals, marks inside 50, and converting inside 50s into goals. But perhaps more important, their scoring accuracy has improved significantly, from 11th last year to 2nd.
Franklin, who reaffirmed his desire to defer contract negotiations until after the season, said he had no issue with the new philosophy. ''We're winning games of football, so there's no frustration with me. It would be a little bit different if we were losing, but we're winning games and that's all you can ask.''
Clarkson said he expected Franklin to benefit in the long run. ''At some point in time he is going to let go and we will benefit from that as well. He'll probably be able to let go when he hasn't got three opponents on him, and that was happening so often last year.
''But now they have to concentrate a little bit more on other players. Jack Gunston has kicked three goals the last three weeks, so [defenders] are now like 'I might not drop off him so easily next week', and that allows Bud to actually get freed up a bit more.''