1. They couldn't, could they?
A loss to lowly Carlton saw Essendon slump to a 2-6 season start and had the critics circling, particularly around freshly re-signed coach John Worsfold. These Bombers were supposed to be serious contenders in 2018 after a three-headed recruiting haul in Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad. Instead, they were in the bottom four through eight rounds. But Essendon has responded wonderfully to bank eight victories in its next 10 outings, surging into unlikely finals contention. The Bombers' victims in that time include fellow finals aspirants West Coast, Geelong, GWS, North Melbourne and now Sydney. They were outside the top eight on percentage as of Friday night – and the dream is suddenly alive. Hawthorn and St Kilda are to come before two major tests in Richmond and Port Adelaide to round out the home and away season.

DONS SINK SHAKY SWANS Full match coverage and stats
2. Swans need more from their Buddy
Sydney superstar Lance Franklin faced going goalless in back-to-back matches for just the third time in his career at half-time against Essendon. It last happened five years ago and you have to go all the way back to his rookie season in 2005 for the time before that. Franklin failed to kick a goal opposed to Gold Coast defender Rory Thompson last week and compiled a paltry two disposals against Bomber Michael Hurley in the first two quarters on Friday night. But 'Buddy' put paid to a repeat performance when he nailed one of his trademark goals from barely inside the boundary after a free kick. The 31-year-old had a second to his name before three-quarter time, when he shoved aside Hurley – perhaps illegally – gathered the Sherrin and kicked truly from 40m. Franklin missed three matches because of a bruised heel earlier in the season and is reportedly still restricted. Whatever the case is, the Swans need their main man firing if they plan to reverse their flagging fortunes.

WATCH Heavyweight duel: Hurley v Buddy

3. What a difference 10 seconds make
Most of the statistics suggested Essendon should have been comfortably ahead entering half-time – including a 34-18 inside-50s edge – but the Bombers actually trailed by nine points in the final minute. Then came Conor McKenna's stroke of fortune, when an ugly shot on goal took a wrong turn for Swan Dane Rampe and incredibly bounced through for a goal. The moment proved Essendon's circuit-breaker. Only 10 seconds of playing time remained, but it was enough for Mitch Brown to receive a free kick and bang through another major post-siren from 50m. Two more goals followed – another to Brown and a magnificent left-foot finish on the run from Zach Merrett – in the first five minutes of the second half as the Bombers skipped away by 16 points.

4. Jones confuses Etihad Stadium for a boxing ring
We're used to push and shoves and tests of strength before the opening siren, but it's rare anything in those scuffles ends up being reportable. Sydney's Zak Jones proved the exception on Friday night, throwing a quick left jab that collected Bomber Zach Merrett in a moment of madness. This wasn't Tom Bugg-like – and Merrett was fine – but the on-the-spot umpire reported Jones for striking immediately and he could be in strife with Match Review Officer Michael Christian. Jones was reported again in the final term for a high bump on Essendon's Kyle Langford that capped a horrible night for the Swans. He was also reported three times in 2017, including twice for striking. 

5. Woosha ends his drought against Horse
There's always a bit of intrigue in the battle of the coaches' boxes – and history was emphatically in John Longmire's favour over John Worsfold before their latest stoush. Longmire's Sydney was six from six against Worsfold-coached sides and there was a chance it could happen again. The Swans were somehow nine points in front in the final minute of the opening half – despite being beaten in general play – before the game quickly slipped away. But four straight Bombers goals either side of the main break proved the impetus for Worsfold to finally get the better of Longmire, for what it's worth.

Friday's win is John Worsfold's first against John Longmire. Picture: AFL Photos