SYDNEY has reaffirmed itself as a premiership favourite, dismantling Essendon by 65 points in a one-sided elimination final at the SCG on Saturday.
The Swans poured on 10 goals in a second quarter avalanche to bust the game wide open.
They ran out 19.7 (121) to 8.8 (56) winners to make it 15 wins from their past 17 matches and send an ominous warning to the remaining teams in the finals series.
Sydney will now play Geelong at the MCG on Friday night in a replay of last year's preliminary final – a match the Swans won comfortably.
Sydney has had Geelong's measure in recent years, winning five of six, and would fancy their chances again after a scintillating performance in front of the largest AFL crowd ever at the SCG.
Coach John Longmire described the pivotal second quarter as "powerful footy".
"We really lifted a gear or two," he said.
"It was based on some really strong defence and then we were able to be really efficient going forward, took marks in attacking 50 and hit the scoreboard during that period.
"It's finals footy and as we've seen across this weekend, you've got to be strong at the opposition and strong at the contest.
"I thought in all three phases of the game we were pretty strong."
After a hotly contested first quarter, Lance Franklin kicked all four of his goals in the second - three in the first five minutes – to take the game over in lightning quick time.
Sydney led by 61 points at half-time. The 46,323-strong crowd was delirious and the match was as good as over.
Fresh from 10 goals in round 23 against Carlton, Franklin opened the second quarter with a set shot from 55m, then snapped one after sidestepping Mark Baguley a minute later and added a third with a strong mark over Patrick Ambrose.
He played just five minutes of the last quarter before icing a corked thigh, which Longmire says is nothing to be concerned about.
With Franklin on fire, Callum Sinclair also destroyed All Australian defender Michael Hurley, who looked short of a run in his return from an ankle injury.
The Swans dominated at ground level, thanks largely to captain Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker, but just as impressively in the air.
Sinclair finished with three goals and nine marks, most of which came against Hurley before the Bomber was switched on to Franklin during the third quarter.
The Swans had 18 contested marks at half-time and finished with 26 for the match.
"We were able to get on top in the air down there and that certainly makes a difference because the players up the ground get a lot of confidence out of that," Longmire said.
Kennedy feasted, kicking two goals in the crucial second term and finishing with 29 disposals, 18 contested and eight clearances to be arguably the best player on ground.
His half-volley pick-up and handball to Dane Rampe that resulted in a Gary Rohan goal in the third quarter typified Kennedy's precision and influence.
Parker starred in his 150th game, helping the home team win the midfield battle, laying seven tackles and extracting seven clearances to go with his 27 disposals.
Every Swan did their job.
It was a poor finish to an excellent bounce-back season for the Bombers and not a great way for retirees Jobe Watson and James Kelly to go out.
Coach John Worsfold said he was disappointed but proud of his team.
"I'm really disappointed that we couldn't stem their dominance in that second quarter. (There's) A lot to learn in terms of what happened in that period," he said.
"The way the players stuck at it in the second half, they came out to make it a strong effort and I think they did that.
"The difference in the game was their contested marking. When we were kicking it long forward or when they were going forward, they just dominated.
"There's been a massive amount of gains made by the whole footy club in so many areas. We lost today to a very good team."
Essendon tried hard early – they had 39 tackles in a frantic first quarter – but were outgunned most of the game.
Their fumbles in the defensive 50 cost them three goals in the second quarter, and they never recovered.
Joe Daniher (three goals from 17 touches and six marks) played a lone forward line hand, while Watson (20) and Kelly (17) battled hard in their final game.
The result continued a barren run for Essendon in finals that dates back to 2004.
Sydney Swans: No issues for the Swans. Gary Rohan limped off in the second quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury, only to return minutes later running freely. The speedy utility finished with seven disposals and two goals. Lance Franklin copped a corkie in the first quarter, but it didn't stop him, until he was rested for the final quarter. Young defender Lewis Melican was withdrawn before the game with a tight quad and replaced by Harry Cunningham.
Essendon: The Bombers also appeared to get through unscathed despite a scary moment in the third term when Mark Baguley laid on the ground for a moment after Isaac Heeney landed on the defender's head in a marking contest. Thankfully Baguley got back to his feet.
The Swans travel to Melbourne to take on Geelong in an elimination final on Friday night. Sydney will have good memories of the last time they played the Cats in September, easily winning last year's preliminary final. For Essendon, the loss brings an end to a season that saw it in the finals for the first time since 2014.
SYDNEY 3.2 13.5 17.5 19.7 (121)
ESSENDON 1.3 3.4 5.8 8.8 (56)
Sydney: Franklin 4, Towers 3, Sinclair 3, Kennedy 2, Rohan 2, Heeney 2, Papley, Jack, Lloyd
Essendon: Daniher 3, Begley 2, Myers, Fantasia, Heppell
Sydney: Kennedy, Sinclair, Parker, Grundy, Lloyd, Franklin, Jones
Essendon: Daniher, Heppell, Zaharakis, McGrath
Sydney: Lance Franklin (corked thigh), Isaac Heeney (nose)
Umpires: Hosking, Chamberlain, Meredith
Official crowd: 46,323 at the SCG