Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has conceded his side needs to get tougher around the ball after becoming North Melbourne's first AFL victim since round nine last season.
The Hawks opened up a 32-point lead early in the second quarter at Launceston on Saturday but fell away to lose by seven points.
It was the last-placed Kangaroos' first win this season and broke a losing streak of 287 days.
"We just couldn't match them and they deserve their victory," Clarkson told reporters.
"We did some good things early and put ourselves in a position to win the game.
"But midway through the third quarter they were the better side by far."
Hawthorn were outgunned in the clearances 49-29 and contested possessions 144-123 to remain second last on the ladder with just two wins from nine games.
"We need to get tougher and harder and stronger around the ball," Clarkson said.
"Sometimes it's not just about the number itself, but about the quality of the clearance.
"They were able to get a lot of ground from their clearances and were able to put our defence under a lot of pressure.
"That's the difficult thing for our boys to have to swallow but there's only one way forward.
"That's to keep turning up to training, keep working hard and we'll find a way to improve."
There was plenty to like about Hawthorn early on, with Chad Wingard kicking two majors and providing two goal assists in the opening quarter.
"The good sides are able to produce that sort of footy for four quarters, we've been able to do it in one quarter, two quarters, and that's just not enough to win games of footy," Clarkson said.
Hawthorn had a sniff in the dying stages when Luke Breust reduced the margin to just six points inside the final two minutes.
But a late North Melbourne behind and some desperation in defence meant the gap was too great.
Australian Associated Press