THIS was what Essendon's shiny new 2018 model was supposed to look like.

Blistering ball movement, defence-splintering kicks, suffocating pressure, a big man clunking marks in attack – and a commanding win over a fellow finals aspirant.

It may have come just in time to rescue a season many wrote off in the wake of last week's loss to a then-winless Carlton and the subsequent departure of strategy coach Mark Neeld.

BOMBERS BACK ON TARGET Full match coverage and stats

The Bombers put a hellish week behind them – and showed there is still a pulse at Tullamarine – with a 12.12 (84) to 7.8 (50) demolition of an impossible-to-read Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.

And all with bookends Joe Daniher and Michael Hurley, 2016 No.1 draft pick Andy McGrath and a handful of other regular contributors on the sidelines.

They even won a third quarter for the first time this year despite kicking five consecutive behinds at one stage.

"I know they've got that performance in them. I know that we're still learning a lot about each other and our roles," coach John Worsfold told reporters post-match.

"They had a really good week on the track around where we believed we could perform better together, our understanding.

"Full credit to them for the way they talked and worked through that."

The damage was done in a devastating five-goal-to-none start – three to Shaun McKernan – although the Cats steadied from that early blow with a pair of majors leading into quarter-time.


But one moment just before the first break summed up Essendon's desire and denied Geelong a third goal that had the potential to break Bomber hearts.

An errant Dyson Heppell handball gifted the Cats possession inside their forward 50 and they surged forward to Gary Ablett in the pocket, only for Zach Merrett to bury him in a bruising tackle.

Merrett (32 disposals, six tackles, six clearances) saved a goal earlier in the term in similar circumstances when he wrapped up Patrick Dangerfield. 

WATCH: Zach takes care of Danger


The All Australian midfielder is one of many who has underperformed this season in the face of increased opposition attention, but sang a different tune on Saturday.

Those two Geelong six-pointers were its last until a Dangerfield long bomb almost 13-and-a-half minutes into the third term.

There were four more Essendon goals in between, including three in a six-minute burst to kick off the second term – the third of them to one of the AFL's great survivors, ex-Crow McKernan.

WATCH: Shaun McKernan gets one off the deck


Jake Stringer (19, seven tackles) was close to being dumped to the VFL after the Blues defeat, but was an instigator in the Bombers' bright start in a roaming role.

His ability to direct the ball to ground in a one-versus-two against Jack Henry and Zach Tuohy to set up a McKernan soccer goal was tremendous.

It was the Bombers' highlight-reel announcement they were playing as one.

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Brendon Goddard told media mid-week that tackling was just one indicator of effort, but Essendon's 36-21 edge in that department in the opening quarter was noteworthy.

Devon Smith, another of the recruits, led the way again with five tackles to quarter-time (10 for the day) and was one of a whopping six Bombers with at least three by then.

Heppell (28), who apologised on behalf of the club's senior group to the young brigade for a lack of leadership in the first eight rounds, also set the tone with an excellent beginning.

WATCH: No need to say sorry for this, Dyson


But there was no shortage of Essendon winners.

Cale Hooker (21, 11 marks) was an enormous presence in defence with his strong hands, Jordan Ridley (25) made a wonderfully-composed debut and David Zaharakis (33, six tackles) was a relentless ball-winner.

The coaching staff's move to send usual defender Mark Baguley forward was a success and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti poured on the pressure alongside him.

As for Chris Scott's Cats, they struggled to find a way forward with another loss in the clearances (36-32) and their uncontested game shutdown.

Scott conceded his side was "obliterated" around the ball.

"Our performance, in some ways, was inexplicable. We didn't execute any of the things we planned going in," Geelong's coach said.

"The other side of that – it's always ungracious to talk too much in these sorts of situations about how poorly we used the ball and fumbled and were just beaten in the contest, without acknowledging how good the opposition were.

"There's no doubt they beat us in virtually every facet of the game … we just didn't respond well enough and a lot of the plans we had going into the game needed to be thrown out the window to an extent.

"We tried a number of things and probably with the exception of (Mark) Blicavs in the ruck, none of them worked."

Joel Selwood (30) and Mitch Duncan (26) toiled away in the middle and Dangerfield (27, six clearances) did, too, but lacked his usual polish and quality decision-making, and Hawkins battled hard with little supply.

WATCH: Too little too late from Hawkins


Essendon: The Bombers, in another positive, came through the game unscathed. Coach John Worsfold said Michael Hurley, Andy McGrath and David Myers all trained "pretty well" on Saturday morning and were a chance to return next week.

Geelong: James Parsons had some treatment on his hip/groin region in the third quarter, but returned to the field and played out the match. Esava Ratugolea, Scott Selwood, Brandan Parfitt and Lachie Fogarty could all be available for selection in round 10, according to Cats coach Chris Scott.

Essendon heads to Spotless Stadium on Saturday night to take on Greater Western Sydney in a pivotal match for both sides' season. The Cats will try to return to the winner's circle when they host Carlton in Geelong on the same night.

ESSENDON   5.2   9.5  10.11  12.12 (84)
GEELONG      2.2   2.3   3.5     7.8 (50)

Essendon: McKernan 4, Fantasia 2, Heppell, Stringer, Guelfi, McKenna, Baguley, Stewart
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Dangerfield 2, J.Selwood, Crameri 

Essendon: Merrett, Hooker, McKernan, Heppell, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Stringer, Fantasia, Ridley
Geelong: J.Selwood, Stewart, Blicavs, Crameri, Duncan 

Essendon: Nil
Geelong: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Schmitt, Whetton, Hay

Official crowd: 50,228 at the MCG