SYDNEY'S first unbeaten four-game start to a season in more than a decade was tempered by the news it has lost dynamic youngster Gary Rohan for the season after he suffered a broken leg.
It had been the perfect start for the Swans with Rohan marking and then kicking a goal just a minute into the game, but smiles and celebrations turned to grimaces a minute later when his season was shattered.
Rohan was making his way to what seemed an innocuous contest for the ball in Sydney's forward pocket when North's Lindsay Thomas slid into the ball and hit Rohan's ankle, bending it at right angles. He has suffered a compound fracture of the tibia in his right leg.
After being carried straight to the rooms, Rohan - whose family was up from Cobden for the game - was then brought back onto the ground on a stretcher at quarter-time and taken through the crowd so he could get to hospital.
''Yeah, it's a terrible broken leg and he's out for the year,'' a visibly upset coach John Longmire said after the game.
''It's a real shame for him. He's such an exciting talent and a terrific kid to have around the footy club. I'm sure the players will get around him and help him through it, but it's certainly a blow for us.''
The 36-point win means the Swans have won the first four games in a season for the first time since 1998, when they won their first five.
The victory was secured without Adam Goodes (suspension) and ruckman Shane Mumford (back).
''We were missing a few players but the important thing for us was the fact the players who came in really contributed as well,'' Longmire said, pointing out the pressure his team placed on North Melbourne early was vital in the win.
''The way the boys went about it in the first quarter really set the tone of the game.
''We were really conscious that we put enormous pressure around the ball and we felt we were able to do that early and sustain it.''
Longmire said that while Goodes will return from suspension for the vital clash with Hawthorn on Sunday in Launceston, and defenders Nick Smith and Lewis Roberts-Thomson would both be in consideration for the team, he was unsure about Mumford.
Longmire was hopeful Mumford's back injury would not be an ongoing concern all season.
''That's what our medical staff are trying to work out and hopefully we will have some answers in the next couple of days because he's obviously such an important player for us,'' he said.