That victory came to fruition on Saturday night, with an undermanned Essendon outfit piling on eight goals in the last quarter against Hawthorn to win by 27 points at Marvel Stadium.
After collecting just the sole win in the opening seven rounds, continued questions were asked of the Bombers' finals credentials, and more recently their behaviour at training.
Speaking on Fox Footy earlier this week, St Kilda Great Nick Riewoldt drew attention to seeing "a lot of smiles" throughout training vision at Tullamarine, suggesting that can be "the worst thing you can do".
“I’ve been a part of groups where things haven’t been going well. You think, ‘let’s just go out there and have fun, and remember that it’s just a game,” Riewoldt said on Thursday.
“In my opinion, that’s actually the worst thing you can do, because we know the game is so hard to play.
“You’ve actually got to have honest conversations about the standards that you accept. Because too often this year with this group, we’ve seen — even senior players — not live up defensively to the standard that Ben Rutten would be setting.”
The comments placed greater attention on Ben Rutten's side as they prepared to face an in-form Hawthorn outfit that were on course to claim all four premiership points in the Round 8 fixture.
With the Bombers having to make five late changes due to a bout of illness within the playing group, Rutten and Heppell had their backs to the wall before the first bounce.
With several young Bombers playing a part in their first win with the club, the post-match celebrations were filled with elation, with Heppell having a clear message for those who questioned their attitude earlier in the week.
“Talk about smiling, anyone can jam it … for telling us to stop smiling,” Heppell said, via The Herald Sun.
“We came in and had a great environment in the rooms and produced a fantastic performance.
“I’m proud of the attitude that the boys have been sticking to over this whole period. There is a lot of outside noise but within the four walls, it’s just been an unbelievable environment for the circumstances we have been in.”
The Bombers will be hoping to string together a similar performance next week when they travel to the SCG to play Sydney in Round 9.