Alastair Clarkson's most loyal lieutenant has urged fans not to read too much into the Hawthorn great's public musings of his coaching mortality.
Clarkson raised eyebrows on Saturday when he suggested time could soon be up on his coaching career at the club.
Hawthorn were tight losers to Sydney on Friday night, with Clarkson later blaming himself for the loss.
"You have a game like last night, you get pretty disappointed with your own coaching," Clarkson said on radio station 3AW.
"You just wonder whether or not at some point in time this group of players is going to be better served with a different coach."
Clarkson, who is contracted to the end of 2019, said he would use the remainder of his contract to explore the club's future.
"I want to sit down and make sure we use the fullness of the next two years to work out it's the best thing for the football club that I'm the bloke that continues to take charge," he said.
Luke Hodge - who was captain for three of the four premierships Hawthorn has claimed under Clarkson - says his former mentor is merely applying a test he has used previously.
And it would return the same result: an endorsement of Clarkson's leadership.
"Clarko said the exact same thing to the players, the senior players, last year," Hodge told Channel Seven.
"When they were going through the rebuild stage he said if these younger players can't adapt to his coaching he said he's happy to walk away.
"12 weeks later ... they're playing the way he wants."
Hodge left Hawthorn at the end of 2017, the Hawks' most challenging season since the early years of Clarkson's 14-year reign.
The club began with just one win in six weeks and were written off as a force before Clarkson changed up his lineup, losing just three of their last 10 matches to almost make the finals.
Hodge, now at strugglers Brisbane, said it was further proof that Clarkson remained the man for the job.
"He's always going to put the football club before himself," he said.
"If he thinks the players aren't going to adapt to the way he wants to play, he will 100 per cent walk away. But if you look at what they're doing, they're listening to him.
"They're following what he's saying and the leaders are developing the younger players with him.
"I don't think he'll be walking away any time soon."