David Parkin.

David Parkin. Photo: Angela Milne

Fremantle was clearly the most difficult opponent Hawthorn would face in 2013 and Ross Lyon was a mastermind, according to legendary coach David Parkin.

''I'm not saying Hawthorn can't win ... but it will probably be the most difficult task they've faced at least for this season,'' he said. ''I just think it's a manic pressure we've never seen applied, with and without the ball, by any team in the history of the game.''

Parkin, a four-time premiership coach, disputed the theory that Fremantle's effectiveness could be undermined by having to play at the atypically wide MCG, a venue it has played at only twice this season, which included a 27-point loss to Richmond.

''I don't think it matters. I think they've shown, Fremantle, whether it's long and narrow as Geelong or Subiaco or whether it's the MCG or wherever they play, they have the capacity, because it's so well drilled, to make the right decisions ... all the time,'' Parkin said.

''I think they're just exceptionally well coached. I've never seen another coach be able to get a team so completely committed to the method of play. They've probably got one player only who doesn't win his own ball and one very tall player who probably can't pressure like the small blokes do, but the rest of them are totally and utterly committed to that method.''

Lyon, 46, ranks 34th for games coached, 27th for finals coached and is not among the 50 coaches to have led their team to a premiership. Nevertheless he has already done enough at the helm of St Kilda and Fremantle to be  highly regarded by Parkin, one of the leaders of all three of those categories.

While Lyon has only once snared the AFL Coaches Association's top award in his seven seasons as a senior coach, in 2009, association president Parkin argued it was ''indisputable'' that Lyon  is already a great, at least among recent coaches. He hailed the commitment shown by Lyon's Dockers players as unprecedented.

While Parkin was insistent his praise of Lyon was not a slight on Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson – ''he's been able to change and go with the game like few others have'' – he said Lyon's stocks were helped by him having ''taught another group to play the same method within a short [period], two years, and [have them] absolutely committed to it''.

Hawks president Andrew Newbold, joined by Parkin in addressing the club's grand final lunch on Wednesday, said he was not perturbed that Parkin and many others had been lauding the Dockers rather than the ladder-leading Hawks.

''Human nature remembers the last event and ... Fremantle on Saturday were very impressive. It was hard not to be impressed with that. I watched that and thought 'Gee, they're a good side', but it's not really about accolades ... we're about putting our best foot forward on Saturday,'' Newbold said.

''We know they're a fantastic defensive-pressure side and we're looking forward to actually challenging ourselves and asking a few questions of Freo as well.

''I think we've got the best forward line in the competition so let them worry about a few of our blokes as well.''