CALE Hooker and Michael Hurley were shocked, hurt and embarrassed to be overlooked for leadership positions at Essendon for the 2019 season. 

They both quickly moved on.

But after a lethargic pre-season and even worse round one performance against Greater Western Sydney, the workings of the leadership group is one of many facets of the Bombers' football department under internal scrutiny this week.

The changes beneath captain Dyson Heppell and vice-captain Zach Merrett, announced last January, saw David Myers, Orazio Fantasia and Joe Daniher included.

Win or lose against St Kilda, consideration should be given to officially reinstating Hooker and Hurley beneath Heppell - Barrett

The surprise of some inside the Bombers that accompanied the omissions of Hooker and Hurley stretched directly to the inclusions, particularly that of Daniher, who had rarely displayed obvious AFL-level leadership qualities and had spent the previous nine months in rehabilitation for 2018-season ending osteitis pubis problems.

WILL BOMBERS FLY UP? Full preview of Essendon v St Kilda

In removing Hooker and Hurley, grit has been taken out of the leadership group.

Brendon Goddard was regularly criticised for his demonstrative ways as a leader during his six seasons at Essendon, but right now, with the Bombers' unable to produce any form of spark in the three matches they have played in 2019, his domineering ways have never been more required.

Michael Hurley (left) watching on at training on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Heppell's captaincy was severely tested last season after the Bombers crashed to a 2-6 scoreline. He responded overwhelmingly positively in the period thereafter, but is again facing a massive early season challenge to hold his club together.

Having the leadership status removed from their profiles obviously doesn't preclude Hooker, unavailable for selection because of a calf injury, and Hurley, badly beaten in last Sunday's loss to GWS, from being active and valuable leaders.

But it is known that, while being fully supportive of the new structure, the duo has understandably stepped back from the day-to-day, hands-on, finger-pointing leadership, believing that was the message the club wanted them to most heed in being removed from the official group.

The demonstrative Brendon Goddard in full flight in R22 last year. Picture AFL Photos

Coach John Worsfold, in his fourth season as Bombers coach, has been known to contradict certain messages given to players by assistant coaches in the past two years.

That can happen at any club, but when it does, it is important for the playing group to ask for clearer direction. That hasn't been happening at Essendon recently.

Worsfold, rightly, questioned his players at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Whether it's Zach as our vice-captain, whether it's (captain) Dyson (Heppell) or whether it's our young players, there are plenty of examples there across the board where we didn't put the effort in that's required at this level," Worsfold said of the woeful efforts against the Giants.

On Saturday at Marvel Stadium, the Bombers host an equally troubled St Kilda.

Win or lose, consideration should be given to officially reinstating Hooker and Hurley beneath Heppell.