Despite exceeding expectations by featuring in an Elimination Final this season, Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd believes his old side is no certainty of returning to the finals in 2022.

Lloyd - the spearhead from the Bombers' last premiership side in 2000 - pointed to the fact that the club had failed to play finals football in each of the six-seasons following a finish in the eight.

Speaking on Channel Nine's Footy Classified, the three-time Coleman medalist suggested that head coach Ben Rutten still had his work cut out for him ahead of his second-season with the Tullamarine based club.

"I don't think they're ahead of St Kilda. I don't think they're ahead of the Fremantle Dockers. I don't think they're ahead of Carlton," Lloyd stated.

"There's so many sides that I think they're level on.

"You can make the finals and think you're going better than a team that's finished 9th, 10th or 11th, but they're no different to them in terms of trying to make the finals next year because I still think they've got issues with their list, despite how much they improved."

When quizzed about these perceived frailties within Rutten's roster, Lloyd pointed to his old domain as the weak link in the red and black chain.

"I like their backline and I like their midfield," the 12-time club leading goalscorer continued.

"I think their midfield is as good as any going around, but it's their forward line [which is an issue].

Lloyd then pointed to a duo of redheaded Dons' performances against the Bulldogs last Sunday as alarming

"[Aaron] Francis and [Peter] Wright, they're not going to take you that far as a forward line," he said bluntly.

"They didn't hit the scoreboard, they hardly took any marks."

The pair of past top-10 draft selections combined for just three-marks, nine-handballs, seven-kicks and two-behinds in their side's 49-point loss in Launceston.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 12: Aaron Francis of the Bombers runs during the Essendon Bombers training session at The Hangar on January 12, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Although proving able to find the catalyst for concern, the former club captain was at a loss to suggest a reasonable trade table remedy for the Bombers' offensive woes.

"Mason Cox isn't an answer. Sam Weideman's not an answer. Jake Riccardi's not an answer. Jack Gunston's too old in his career," he recommenced.

"Will it just be another year of 8th [and] 9th [placed finishes] if they can't land a key forward with [Cale] Hooker retiring and [Michael] Hurley unlikely to get back?"

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Hurley walks out onto the field during an Essendon Bombers AFL training session at Optus Stadium on September 04, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Fellow panelist and pundit Kane Cornes agreed with Lloyd's appraisal and suggested that Essendon's General Manager of List and Recruiting Adrian Dodoro should have his sights set on a Sun this off-season.

"[Ben King] would absolutely be a target for them," Cornes stated.

"He'll be a target of all of the Victorian clubs."

Irrespective of any interest, King remains contracted to the Carrara club until the end of next season.