The ruthless Sydney that was so puzzlingly missing in the first six rounds of the season returned in force on Sunday, as the Swans breathed life into their spluttering season with a dominant 42-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
After opening its winning account against the Brisbane Lions last Sunday, the Swans' second consecutive victory, after starting the season 0-6, has the potential to put them back in the finals framework.
Thanks in large part to star midfielder Josh Kennedy, who had 26 disposals to half-time, the Swans seized control of the match in the second term as they used a four-goal burst in seven minutes to bust the game open and take a 26-point lead into the main break.
The Swans finished the match with seven goals to North's four after half-time, running out 18.12 (120) to 11.12 (78) winners.
Kennedy's influence quietened slightly after the major break, although he still finished with a match-high 37 disposals to be the most dominant player on the ground.
The Swans, who rely so heavily on their stacked midfield to get them going, were switched on from the beginning and signalled their intent around the footy.
Sydney established control around the stoppages – leading the contested possession count 169-134 – and spread the field from there, as their swift ball movement, also missing in the early part of the season, made a welcome return.
Down on form after interrupted pre-seasons, star duo Luke Parker (36 touches and 11 clearances) and Dan Hannebery (33 and two goals) were instrumental in congested situations for the Swans.
As was Isaac Heeney (25 disposals and two goals), who missed the first month of the season with glandular fever. The Swans youngster's ability to play multiple roles through the midfield and up forward emphasised why his presence was so sorely missed during the Swans' abysmal start to the year.
Youngster Nic Newman (35 disposals) also made the most of his last-minute call-up in place of Oliver Florent.
Missing Jarrad Waite in attack, due to a one-week suspension for a dangerous tackle, the Kangaroos' forward line lacked the bite that set up their upset 59-point win over Adelaide in Hobart last weekend.
Lachie Hansen spent time down there alongside Ben Brown, but the two North key forwards managed just three goals between them as the Kangaroos struggled to find a main avenue to goal.
North's midfield also lacked the spread that was so clearly present against the Crows, with Ben Cunnington (27 disposals), Sam Gibson (25) and Jack Ziebell (22) winning a bit of the footy but exerting little influence.
Shaun Higgins (21 disposals and six inside 50s) was creative but had few teammates able to produce in similar fashion.
Key defender Robbie Tarrant was probably North's best player, as his ability to hold his own in one-on-one contests against Swans superstar Lance Franklin (who kicked one opportunist goal in the final term) stood out.
Franklin may also face scrutiny from the Match Review Panel for high contact on North youngster Sam Durdin in the third term.
The Swans knew the stakes were high and melees at quarter-time, half-time and three-quarter time emphasised the feeling in the contest.
Sydney's tasks do not get any easier with a match-up against the Saints to come next, but for now there is a semblance of normality to its season.
North Melbourne: Top draftee Jy Simpkin received treatment on his right shoulder in the first quarter. He returned with his shoulder taped, but it was clear he was not right. The Kangaroos ruled him out of the game late in the second term. Simpkin was seen after the game in a sling, meaning he may miss a significant amount of time.
Sydney: Swans veteran Jarrad McVeigh spent a lot of time forward after appearing to tighten up in the hamstring early in the first quarter. McVeigh had more treatment on his right hamstring at the start of the second term. Defender Nick Smith copped a significant corked leg late in the second term. Ruckman Sam Naismith was also sporting an ice pack on his left knee on the bench in the final term.
The Swans fly back to Melbourne to face the in-form Saints in what will be an intriguing contest at Etihad Stadium next Saturday. North Melbourne face the Demons, coming off a 41-point win over ladder-leader Adelaide.
More to come
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.3 7.5 8.8 11.12 (78)
SYDNEY 5.2 11.7 15.9 18.12 (120)
North Melbourne: Turner 2, Brown 2, Goldstein 2, Higgins, Anderson, Cunnington, Hrovat, Hansen
Sydney: Reid 3, Heeney 2, Parker 2, Hannebery 2, McVeigh 2, Papley 2, Jones, Franklin, Hewett, Kennedy, Hayward
North Melbourne: Cunnington, Higgins, Tarrant, Atley, Turner
Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Hannebery, Mills, Heeney, Newman, Reid
North Melbourne: Simpkin (right shoulder)
Sydney: McVeigh (right hamstring)
Umpires: Stephens, Ryan, Pannell
Official crowd: 21,589 at Etihad Stadium