Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd has labelled his former club's 48-point loss to Fremantle "as poor a loss as you’ll see", with the three-time Coleman medallist putting a line through the Bombers' 2022 prospects.
The Tullamarine club dipped to a 1-4 record following the home defeat at Marvel Stadium, having conceded 10 successive goals to the Dockers in a major lapse for Ben Rutten's side.
Having shown scope for growth after an impressive finals finish last season, the Bombers' hopes of featuring in September look to be sliding as clubs like the Dockers, Saints and Blues eye a return to the finals frame.
Speaking on AFL.com.au's Access All Areas, Lloyd slammed the Round 5 performance, ruling out any chance of Essendon improving on their 2021 campaign.
“I’m putting a line through them right now," the Bombers champion said.
"I was there yesterday just as a spectator - a lot of angry fans, really, really disappointed.
“There’s losing and then there’s losing the way they lost yesterday, which was as poor a loss as you’ll see. I thought they were outworked by Fremantle, they were too tough for them.
“I thought Essendon had no answers in terms of their inside 50 work - it was Peter Wright, sit it on his head, nothing other than that."
The differential between Fremantle and Essendon's midfield was particularly damning for Lloyd, with the Bombers' star engine room contingent of Darcy Parish, Andrew McGrath and Dylan Shiel failing to counter the constant onslaught that was the Dockers' dominant midfield.
Ball-magnet Andrew Brayshaw led the game with 34 possessions, while Caleb Serong (30) and Will Brodie (26) were also pivotal in moving the ball forward, resulting in a career-best outing for forward Matthew Taberner - who booted seven majors.
Lloyd lamented the efforts of the aforementioned Bombers trio, stating their performances resulted in "a horrible, horrible loss" for Rutten.
“Through the midfield, those guys didn’t want to work as hard as Brayshaw and those types of players who wanted to work through the midfield. It was damning in just about every department," Lloyd added
“Dylan Shiel has been around long time, he’s been disappointing so far, he was poor.
“McGrath? I don’t know anyone who’s enhanced their reputation at Essendon.
“Does he [Parish] want to work hard to chase? No, he doesn’t. That’s lazy from Darcy Parish ... that is symbolic of Essendon’s day yesterday.
“It was a horrible, horrible loss.”
Essendon will be looking to return to winnings ways next week when they host Collingwood for the traditional ANZAC Day blockbuster clash on Monday, with the two Victorian clubs separated by four premiership points as the Pies currently sit in eighth place on the ladder.
The Bombers will endure a difficult fixture in the succeeding weeks, facing the Bulldogs, Hawks, Swans, Tigers and Power before their bye.