Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell says it's not a fait accompli that James Sicily will become the club's next captain, with the Hawks to use a training camp next week to determine their leadership structure.
The Hawks are in need of a new skipper following the retirement of Ben McEvoy at the end of the 2022 AFL season.
McEvoy was part of a mass exodus of experience from the club, with Jaeger O'Meara (Fremantle), Jack Gunston (Brisbane Lions), Tom Mitchell (Collingwood) and Liam Shiels (North Melbourne) among the departures.
Sicily filled in as captain at times last year when McEvoy was out injured, and the 28-year-old's career-best campaign was rewarded with Hawthorn's best and fairest award.
Veteran forward Luke Breust is another option as captain. But at 32 years of age, it seems unlikely Hawthorn will go in that direction.
Defender Blake Hardwick would be a left-field option, while 21-year-old rising star Jai Newcombe is almost certain to be given more time to develop before being considered for such a taxing role.
Mitchell is well aware of the groundswell of support building for Sicily, but he said discussions between the player and coaching group at next week's training camp in Gippsland will help give them more clarity about who the next leader should be.
"It's obvious that on the external that James Sicily is the big obvious one," Mitchell said.
"But there's a lot of players who I wouldn't underestimate their influence on our group.
"You look at any football club from the outside, and you can't really tell (who is the best leader). You see what they do on the field only, but it's such a small portion of what happens.
"What you need to look at is the collective understanding of the group and what we need to take us on that next step on our journey."
Mitchell isn't worried about the recent mass exodus of experience at the club.
"I go back to my early days, and I remember when Shane Crawford retired," Mitchell said.
"It was like, 'how is this club going to run without Shane Crawford?'
"It was quite amazing that losing someone of such significance ... every club finds their equilibrium when they come back.
"We lost some experienced players, some good players of course. But the group comes together, and they just find this groove and equilibrium."
The Hawks finished 13th with an 8-14 record in Mitchell's first year as coach.
With the club in the midst of a big rebuild, there could be more pain to come.
But Mitchell doesn't think that pain is inevitable.
"Our playing group is really clear on the direction and the desire we have to go to the top and to stay there," Mitchell said.
"There's not a quick easy fix to get there, and we know it will take hard work. But there's nothing that says we can't do it straight away, and there's nothing that says it's going to take six or seven years.
"It's up to us to go as fast as we can and see how quickly we can get there."