It now seems almost laughable that Sydney recruit Kurt Tippett was last year lauded as the AFL club's biggest signing since Tony Lockett.

Right or wrong at the time, there's no doubt who holds that title - or will on Friday when Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin takes up a nine-year deal worth over $1 million a season.

Tippett's protracted departure from Adelaide to the Swans on a four-year deal worth $3.55 million may have been one of the off-season's most dramatic stories, but for many Sydneysiders it generated nothing but ambivalence.

Tippett impressed throughout the second half of the regular season, but his clean set of hands never came close to lifting the side or sport's profile compared to what Lockett achieved after he departed St Kilda and joined the Swans for the 1995 season.

Franklin won't be able to match the on-field deeds of Lockett, the game's all-time leading goal-kicker, but in terms of marketing worth the pair could be harder to split.

"Haven't seen excitement like this at Swans since '87," tweeted self-proclaimed excitement machine Warwick Capper, a man who got tongues wagging and bums in seats at the SCG in the 1980s.

Franklin's drawing power was already evident on Tuesday, when the vast majority of Sydney's attention was on the NRL's night of nights - the Dally M awards.

At the mere sniff of a possible Franklin sighting, cameramen and photographers were ordered to spend the day waiting outside the Swans' Moore Park base.

"It'd bring a lot of spotlight on the game in Sydney and you'd probably see a lot more people coming to their games," Swans co-captain Jarrad McVeigh said earlier this year when asked about Franklin's potential impact in the harbour city.

McVeigh, who hails from NSW's Central Coast, and fellow local product Kieren Jack are among those current Sydney players that watched Lockett's memorable 1996 preliminary final behind at the SCG.

They both say it made them Swans fans for life.

Few men to have donned the red and white since can claim to wield that sort of power - Barry Hall included.

Time will tell if Franklin achieves such a feat.

But don't be surprised to see plenty of Sydney jersey with No.23 on the back - presuming 20-year-old Jordan Lockyer hands over his number to Franklin - come round one next year.