LANCE Franklin was certainly Hawthorn's most potent player in the grand final and had the Hawks won, he might well have had a Norm Smith Medal on the mantelpiece alongside his Coleman and premiership medallions.
One cannot blame Buddy for defeat in a game in which he and midfielder Brad Sewell vied to be their team's best performers on the day and in which too many teammates produced too little.
But he also was highly profligate, booting 3.4 with two complete misses from nine shots at goal.
The pain: Lance Franklin finds it hard to face defeat after the final siren. Photo: Joe Armao
Jarryd Roughead's inability to hit the scoreboard (0.3, including a bad miss early) heightened Hawthorn's reliance on Buddy, which ultimately was a factor in its failure to deliver the club's 11th premiership.
Back in round 17, when the Hawks belted Collingwood by eight goals, they were without Franklin, who was then in his lengthy convalescence from a troublesome hamstring. On that day, Hawthorn's attack was multi-pronged - a collective that was very much ''all for one and one for all'' - with Jack Gunston emerging as a dead-eye, while Jordan Lewis banged through five goals and the Hawks piled on their customary 20 goals against the Pies.
By late September, however, when time and space are drastically reduced, delivery is haphazard and the pressure on the bloke with the ball is immense, the Hawks had lapsed into Buddy dependency.
Hawthorn's huge lead in centre clearances (19 to 5) enabled it to have 18 more forward entries than the Swans.
In the course of the match, the Hawks kicked the Sherrin to a single player - who might be double teamed or one out - on 22 occasions. Of those 22 kicks to a solitary man, Buddy accounted for nine. Overall, Hawthorn kicked the ball inside its forward-50 arc 51 times, so the 22 ''sole target'' number doesn't include bombs to packs in which Buddy was among those competing.
The next highest target player among the Hawks was David Hale (four times), with Luke Breust third (two). Significantly, Roughead was seldom kicked to, despite his 41 goals this season and stature as one of the game's better contested-marking forwards.
It's understandable why the Hawks would look for Franklin in more than 40 per cent of their forward thrusts on grand final day. He was electrifying in the first and especially the third quarter, when he booted two goals from outside 50 - one that caught the gusting wind must have carried more than 65 metres. He had Teddy Richards beaten in the air and no tall back can match him when the ball is on the deck.
But he did seem jittery in his set shots, a tendency that has afflicted him on occasion. Remarkably, all three of Buddy's goals were from outside 50, while he managed only 0.2 from 30 to 40 metres, the standard shots for key forwards.
This wasn't simply a case of grand final nerves because Franklin's set shots for the 2012 season (counting finals) produced 36.38. He booted 18.11 from shots on the run, 10.13 from snaps and 4.2 when marking and playing on. On Saturday, his preference for playing on - don't think about the shot, just do it - was plain. Then, in the final quarter, he laid off a pass to Gunston, rather than take the shot from 45 metres. In the circumstances this was probably a good call as Gunston is a straighter kick and was closer. But he hit the post with a shot that would have wrested the game back the Hawks' way.
In that final quarter, when the Swans were ahead, Richards outmarked Buddy on a high ball at a key moment - again, the Hawks had gone to him indiscriminately, rather than lowering their eyes for an open player. Sydney's pressure obviously made it difficult to spot up.
Franklin's 52 per cent accuracy rate is the worst among the Hawks' top-10 goalkickers. So while he's the game's premier forward and almost dragged the Hawks to glory, their overuse of him also dragged them down.