ESSENDON is hopeful its new state-of-the-art Tullamarine base will help energise the club as it looks to leave behind its disastrous 2013 season.  

The Bombers' full playing list returned to training on Monday, when the club officially opened its new high performance centre.

Boasting an indoor training facility, a three-lane lap pool, a world-class gym, two ovals (one the size of the MCG, the other the size of Etihad Stadium) and two altitude rooms, the $27 million project has lifted spirits at the Bombers after their year in the spotlight.

Captain Jobe Watson, speaking on his first day of pre-season training, was confident that the teachings of 2013, along with the invigoration of a new home for the club, would breed optimism heading into next season. 

"With being at the new facility, the lessons the club's learnt in 2013, the resilience the playing group's showed, the resilience the club showed and the loyalty we got from our supporters and fan - the club didn't break under enormous stress and the playing group didn't break and the fans didn't go away," Watson said.

"That's something the Essendon Football Club as a brand can build on."

Essendon has welcomed three additions to its list – Paul Chapman, Shaun Edwards and Kurt Aylett – and Watson said the recruits, coupled with the new furnishings, gave the players a boost.

"There's just excitement with the playing group and that happens this time every year. But with the new facility, and some new faces, you walk around and it's infectious, the excitement through the whole football club," Watson said.

Still, the shadow of 2013 may remain until the Bombers actually hit the field next year.

Watson said he had not used his post-season break to reflect much on how the last few months had unfolded, with the Dons being booted from the finals despite winning 14 games, the most it had won in a season since 2004.  

He also said he could "understand" why he had become the target of opposition supporters during games last year, being vigorously booed throughout the second half of the season.

"It's never a nice experience," he said of copping the brunt of the abuse.

"And it's not something you really prepare yourself for. But I think you go back to 'What kind of person am I? What kind of person do I want to be? Whose opinions do I value? Who cares about me? What do I care about?'

"And I can understand the anger and the anguish from the football community. But I can't control or worry about what other people think and how they behave. They're entitled to do it and given the circumstances of the year, you can understand how people reacted that way.

"I wasn't going to dwell on it and I was able to move on."

Despite losing key forwards Scott Gumbleton and Stewart Crameri during the trade period, and with Michael Hurley seemingly headed to the backline, Watson said he was confident in the club's forward stocks.

"Obviously Joey's (Daniher) going into his second pre-season, Paddy (Ryder) can play forward, Tom Bellchambers played forward, we recruited Paul Chapman to play more of a forward role," Watson said.

"You never like to lose players like the ones that we've lost but that is the challenge and that is the nature of sport that someone else will fill the role."

Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey