Mark Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield down for maximum Brownlow Medal votes after his stunning first outing for the Cats, which culminated in a 30-point win over Hawthorn.
In another Easter Monday classic, Dangerfield gathered a career-best 44 possessions and went inside 50 on 10 occasions in the thrilling 18.8 (116) to 12.14 (86) clash at the MCG.
"I think the focus initially will be on me, but the reason we won today was the collective effort from 22 players," the 25-year-old said.
Further souring the day for the Hawks, skipper Luke Hodge has a suspected broken arm after a late clash with Mitch Duncan that resulted in the Cat being reported.
In a highly entertaining affair in front of 74,218 fans, Geelong enjoyed a 30-point lead at halftime, but the reigning premiers stormed back to be in front by two points at the last change.
However, the Cats weren't to be denied and finished with a seven-goals-to-two final term and a season-opening win.
Dangerfield thrilled the crowd with two brilliant marks in the last quarter, only to blot his copybook with two misses from straightforward shots.
"I wasn't very nervous, I just didn't hit them that well. I think I need to go through my routine a bit better than what I did," he said.
Coach Chris Scott is at pains for the Cats not to become known as a one-man band, but it was hard to see his side holding off the Hawks without Dangerfield, who almost singlehandedly willed his side on when they came under fire in the third quarter.
Premiership stars Hodge, Isaac Smith and Luke Breust managed just one possession each in quiet opening terms, but lifted as prime movers Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Shaun Burgoyne helped launch a counterattack after the main break.
Noticeably more intense at the stoppages, Hawthorn wrenched the momentum off the Cats, who suddenly couldn't move the ball out of their back half.
"We started the game slowly, worked our way back into it in the second quarter, played a really good third quarter and gave ourselves a real chance at three-quarter time, but we just played really poorly in the last quarter," Hawks coach Al Clarkson said.
"Full credit to Geelong ... they played much better than us, were cleaner than us. We fumbled a lot of crucial balls, particularly early."
It barely seemed possible, but Dangerfield lifted his game another notch in a stunning last-quarter onslaught as the Cats finished over the top of their tiring opponents. Scott was delighted by the way his side fought back after a tough third quarter, but accepted the headlines would inevitably be about Dangerfield.
"I know there's going to be a real focus on Patrick, and so there should be - he was outstanding today," Scott said.
"But we want to build a team that can be pretty consistent across the board. "And I thought our younger players stood up when it counted."