Paul Duffield says Fremantle must learn quickly from their mistakes against Geelong or risk being "outsmarted" by another of the league's best teams at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.
The defender warned an unpredictable Hawthorn forward line missing the suspended Jarryd Roughead and injured Jack Gunston (knee) would still be just as dangerous.
He made the declaration as the Dockers confirmed Luke McPharlin would miss three weeks with a calf injury, meaning their most important defender will not be available until at least the first week of finals.
Tom Sheridan is out for up to a fortnight with a hip injury, while Tendai Mzungu (hamstring) and Garrick Ibbotson (back) will need to pass fitness tests.
Geelong are the only current top-six side the Dockers have beaten this year, with that win coming at home in round nine.
Even in their narrow loss to the Cats at Simonds Stadium last Saturday night, Fremantle rushed the ball going forward in the first three quarters and ultimately paid the price.
Their lack of composure played into the hands of Cats defender Harry Taylor, who took an equal season-high 19 marks to be best on ground in his club's two-point win.
Essendon's Jake Carlisle is the only other player to take that many marks in an AFL match this season.
Duffield said Fremantle could not afford to repeat those mistakes against Hawthorn's mobile back line.
"(Geelong) really outsmarted us with their defenders and their ability to read the kicks coming in and intercept and then we obviously struggled to get it off them a little bit," Duffield said.
"Hawthorn are really similar in that model … we'll definitely learn a lot out of that.
"If our effort's good then you can learn, see the mechanics and work on them."
Hawthorn are likely to structure their forward line with David Hale and Ryan Schoenmakers as the tall targets, with Luke Breust and Paul Puopolo at their feet.
But they also have the option of throwing Matt Spangher forward or recalling Jonathon Ceglar or Tim O'Brien to bolster their height in attack.
"Hawthorn have proven all year they've got fantastic depth and players that can come in and still play a fantastic role for the side and they can still find a way to win," Duffield said.
"That's why they're such a great side."
Hawthorn football manager Chris Fagan yesterday flagged Gunston was still "some chance" to play against Fremantle on the back of two days of training after the premiers accepted Roughead's one-match ban for tripping.
But Gunston's inclusion is still viewed as highly unlikely, with Duffield nominating an in-form Breust as a potent weapon for the Hawks regardless.
Breust is sitting fifth in the Coleman Medal race with 49 goals this season.
"He's surprisingly quick when you actually go and play on him," Duffield said.
"He's really strong through his hips.
"He's very hard to budge off the line of the ball for a smaller player, so he does that exceptionally well and he finishes really well."