Last year was disastrous for Essendon. Ater a solid first season under Ben Rutton in 2021, they slid significantly in 2022.
On-field struggles; finishing bottom four, mixed with off-field issues; a mishandled sacking of their coach, a failed last-minute attempt to lure Alastair Clarkson to the club and an exodus at board level, made 2022 a year to forget.
Now with a new coach in Brad Scott, how will the Bombers perform?
There are no expectations yet on Scott, but many will question if he can be the man to break their finals win drought. Time will tell, but given he took a less-than-impressive North Melbourne outfit to two consecutive prelims, it seems likely he will for some supporters.
Outs: Cody Brand (delisted), Tom Cutler (delisted), Joshua Eyre (delisted), Aaron Francis (Sydney Swans), Brayden Ham (delisted), Tom Hird (delisted), Michael Hurley (retired), Garrett McDonagh (delisted), Devon Smith (retired), Alec Waterman (delisted)
Here we assess Essendon's depth chart for 2023 and name their best 23-man side.
Essendon really needs its back six to gel and become a defensive structure to stop high scores. 13 times a team scored 90 or more against them in 2022.
The foundation for a solid defence is there though.
Jayden Laverde remains as the key defender, a role he has played for two seasons, but wouldn't necessarily be the first choice.
Jordan Ridley has also served as a shoo-in key defender but he is clearly served better as an intercept marker, given he won a best and fairest in 2020 playing that role.
Rounding out the talls is Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, who improved last season, and could rotate with Ridley and Laverde.
McGrath was trialled in the midfield during Rutten's entire tenure but things didn't work out, and he found himself at half-back. It has been hinted he'll remain there.
The 2017 Rising Star winner (as a defender) could provide the line-breaking that Redman displays.
Well all know what Merrett brings to the table as a three-time best and fairest and dual All-Australian. He is the player Dons faithful want to win the ball in the centre.
Parish broke out in 2021 to become one of the league's best midfielders and nearly those levels performance-wise in 2022. Should hopefully continue to star in the Bombers' engine room.
Despite the knock on his kicking skills, Shiel can play an important role in this side, he is a former All-Australian after all.
Jye Caldwell further adds to the youth in the middle.
Sadly skipper Dyson Heppell finds himself out of the team, for someone his age and usual class, he hasn't provided enough to warrant his place, other than being captain.
Archie Perkins hasn't had his breakout yet but is talented, and is someone who can play in the middle and support them or play up forward.
There sits a pretty tall forward line at the Hangar, with five of them over 190cm.
The full forward position could go to either Peter Wright or Melbourne recruit Sam Weideman. Wright, last year's best and fairest winner, is a better long-distance kick, so he'll go up to half-forward.
Harrison Jones will be relieved with Weideman's arrival, making him the third tall, and taking pressure off the youngster.
Ben Hobbs impressed many and is on the brink of the team, expect him as a sub, clocking minutes forward and in the midfield.
FB: Jordan Ridley, Jayden Laverde, Nick Hind
HB: Mason Redman, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Andrew McGrath
C: Nic Martin, Zach Merrett, Sam Durham
HF: Harrison Jones, Peter Wright, Kyle Langford
FF: Jake Stringer, Sam Weideman, Matt Guelfi
FOL: Sam Draper, Darcy Parish, Dylan Shiel
INT: Massimo D'Ambrosio, Jye Caldwell, Archie Perkins, Jake Kelly
Sub: Ben Hobbs
We've picked our side, now it's time for you to pick yours with our PICK YOUR TEAM page.