Brad Scott during Essendon's match against the Western Bulldogs in R5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON coach Brad Scott has rejected suggestions the Bombers need to claim a top-eight scalp to solidify their premiership credentials.

Coming off a disappointing 45-point defeat to bogey side Geelong on Saturday night, Essendon is preparing for a return bout against Collingwood, a team the Bombers drew with on Anzac Day, at the MCG on Friday night.

Essendon remains in fourth, despite losing three of its last four matches, and is yet to beat a team currently sitting in the top eight in 2024.

A round nine triumph over Greater Western Sydney, which was an early premiership favourite but has slid to 10th after struggling for the past two months, remains its most impressive and credible win of 2024.

"Is there that big a gap between second, third, fourth and 14th? I would argue that there's hardly any gap at all," Scott said on Tuesday.

"That's more of what we're aware of, rather than trying to sort of knock off the teams that sit high up on the ladder.

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"It's about trying to separate yourself from the chasing pack. Wins are wins and four points are harder to get than ever."

Scott, a former AFL football boss, believes the League would be delighted about how the season is panning out.

"Competitive balance is something I feel is talked about all the time and they can almost sit there and say mission accomplished now," he said.

"Everything's so balanced and competitive. It's hard to separate yourself from every other team.

"In a competition where the AFL want different teams to win the premiership every 18 years, it makes it incredibly hard for clubs (to dominate)."

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The focus after Essendon's second-half capitulation against the Cats has been on the umpiring.

Post-game, Scott carefully described the chaotic third quarter, where Geelong slammed through five goals to one amid contentious umpiring, as a "series of unfortunate events".

But he has reiterated Essendon handled the momentum shift poorly and has refused to blame the umpires for his players losing their way.

"It clearly impacted our players, more than I've seen it before," Scott said.

"They were quite agitated and quite frustrated, and we didn't deal with that frustration.

"We completely understand why they were frustrated, but in elite sport things happen out of your control all the time, it's only your reaction to that you can control."