ESSENDON'S ability to function straight away with new top-up players was an uncertainty for coach John Worsfold and one of the aspects that pleased him most in Sunday's NAB Challenge win against Carlton.
The Bombers used four of their new recruits, with ruckman Sam Michael, former Docker Ryan Crowley, premiership midfielder Jonathan Simpkin and former Hawk Sam Grimley unveiled.
For Worsfold, it was simply their ability to fit in and communicate with their new teammates that stood out.
"We did see a lot of good things, and the players talking to each other … that was a good part of it," the coach said.
"With youth versus the experience we had in, you think Essendon should win the game, but we had a lot of players that don’t know each other that well.
"[The mentality beforehand was] if it doesn’t go well, we’re going to learn a lot out of it.
"That’s what we’ll take out of the game, regardless of the scoreboard."
It was a scrappy game and Worsfold acknowledged the Bombers have plenty of areas they "need to be sharper at", with disposal efficiency poor from both sides.
The coach was pleased with the intensity shown by Irish forward Conor McKenna and prized draftee Darcy Parish's first hit-out.
The Bombers are likely to unveil five of the remaining six top-up players in their next two NAB Challenge games, with only James Polkinghorne unavailable with a calf niggle.
Defender Matt Dea and ruckman Mark Jamar should face Geelong on March 5, while former Kangaroo Nathan Grima and premiership Cats James Kelly and Mathew Stokes are likely to play in the final pre-season hit-out against West Coast on March 13.
Essendon's emergencies on Sunday – Adam Cooney, Mark Baguley and Jayden Laverde – would all return against the Cats, Worsfold said.