A fine example of the latter is the early season form of Fremantle. There was Round 3 against West Coast, where they led by nine goals before winning by five, Round 4 against Sydney they were up by nine at halftime and won by three, and Round 6 against Essendon where a six-goal halftime lead became another five goal win. Right up until their first loss in Round 9, Freo were just doing enough. They were setting the pace for the competition, but still didn't quite manage to convince some pundits that they'd maintain their form right through the season.
The form of the Dockers since that loss to Richmond has been uninspiring at best. Meanwhile, the team that had many footy fans scratching their heads in Round 9, Hawthorn, has shown that they are far and away the best team in the league. While Freo won their first nine games, the Hawks had "stumbled" to 5-4 without managing two consecutive wins. Despite having lost almost half their games at that point, though, Hawthorn's percentage was at over 150. Their four losses were at an average of just over a goal.
At the end of Round 8, roughly halfway through the second quarter of the season, Hawthorn had done just enough to be in sixth spot on the ladder. While they were on the same points as the Bulldogs in 11th spot, they still had a percentage of 145. Since that week's loss to Sydney the Hawks have won every game by an average of seven goals.
Unfortunately for Sydney and Fremantle, Hawthorn's version of just doing enough appears to be cruising through the first half before putting the foot down in the second half. It almost seems, to me at least, that they began the season with an eye on these last two weeks. Their objective appears to have been to get through the first 14 games with a winning record before unleashing Hell on their opponents from the last three Grand Finals. All in aid of showing the rest of the competition that they are miles ahead of anyone.
The Round 8-10 period of the season was something of a turning point. Leading into that stage it was all about Sydney and Fremantle. Since Round 9 both teams have lost two games, with Sydney having lost two in the last four weeks. In the same time Hawthorn have strung together seven in a row and, aside from possible danger games against Richmond and West Coast, have a pretty smooth run into the finals.
Of course, even teams such as Hawthorn can have off days and anything could happen from here. As it stands, though, Hawthorn have done just enough to get themselves a top four spot virtually sewn up. If they treat West Coast the same way they have the other flag hopefuls it'll likely mean a top two spot and a first week home final. Hawthorn have set themselves up perfectly and barring any major upsets a third consecutive Premiership is all but theirs.