It loomed as the dawn of a new era for both Essendon and Hawthorn and the early signs are much rosier for the Bombers.
After an even first term the Dons took complete control in the second quarter, dominating all facets of play. Dylan Shiel, Zach Merrett, Andy McGrath and Darcy Parish led the way in a midfield rout while the new-look forward line of Cale Hooker, Peter Wright and Harrison Jones looked dangerous, albeit Jones was untidy in front of goal.
Anthony McDonald-Tipunwgwuti looks much fitter than he did last year and his pressure was again telling. Aaron Francis and Jayden Laverde – both facing critical seasons – were solid in defence.
The only major blot for Essendon so far was a high hit from debutant Nik Cox on Hawk Ollie Hanrahan which is set to be looked at by the match review officer.
Hawks forwards Tim O’Brien and Jacob Koschitzke have been starved of opportunities but have struggled in any case. The ground is half-full but it’s mainly Dons fans on hand and the roar has been imposing. Queues were longer than usual getting into the ground.