Essendon forward Kyle Langford has described his club's tumultuous finish to its 2023 campaign as "a pretty sh*t feeling", revealing he'll look to sit down with coach Brad Scott to find some answers after the club's 70-point defeat to Collingwood on Friday night.
The Bombers were right in the finals hunt up until last Saturday afternoon, where they suffered a 126-point defeat to fellow September aspirants GWS in a blow that all but put a line through their changes of playing in the post-season.
In what was a must-win match with their season on the line, Essendon's campaign was cut to ribbons to see them enter the final round of the home and away season needing a miracle performance and a suite of results to go their way.
Instead, the Bombers would allow Round 24 opponents and close rivals Collingwood to kick the first 11 goals of the game and have the win, and the minor premiership, sewn up before the main break.
The result has left the club's fans, players and coaches hurting, with Langford offering an honest assessment of Essendon's conclusion to their 2023 season after the loss to the Magpies.
Speaking to 3AW, the in-form forward said the club's form since the bye saw their hopes of returning to finals fade, with Essendon having sat in the top five on the ladder as recently as Round 17.
The 26-year-old said he was "gobsmacked" by his team's recent results, stating the end of their season is "pretty disappointing".
"After the bye we let ourselves down. We played unbelievable footy in the first half of the year," Langford said.
"But we have a lot to work on, both on and off the field. It's pretty disappointing. The first quarter this week and then last week we weren't happy at all. It's a pretty sh*t feeling.
"I'm not sure exactly (how the change in form came). It's pretty hard because I was absolutely gobsmacked last week and obviously the first quarter this week. It's just one of those things, you don't prepare for it.
"When it happens it hits you straight between the eyes. As a group we have so much to work on and there's no worse feeling than going into the off-season like this.
"It's just going to sit in everyone's guts. It really does hurt."
Langford said he couldn't put a finger on what led to the contrasting levels of form between the opening half of the year and Essendon's run home, noting he would like to speak with his senior coach in the off-season and delve into the matter.
The Bombers were in the finals frame in 15 rounds this year, only to lose five of their final seven matches to now be a chance to finish as low as 13th.
"I don't know what it is. Personally, I've got no idea. I'll be searching for answers and I'll be asking Scotty what the go is, because I think we were sitting fifth or sixth at one stage.
"It's pretty sh*t."
Langford is among the group of Essendon players who can take away a plethora of positives from his 2023 season, having booted 51 goals from his 23 appearances as a breakout forward under Brad Scott.