North Melbourne are starting to develop a much better reputation as the AFL cardiac Kangaroos.
The last-gasp win over the Western Bulldogs last weekend was their second time this season they have taken out a match by two points.
It's in stark contrast with last year, when six of their matches were decided by less than a goal and North lost five of them.
Coupled with Essendon's awful record this season in third quarter, the Kangaroos will fancy their chances if the game is tight after halftime on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
"It just shows the maturity of the group. In the past, we probably would have (lost)," Roos defender Majak Daw said.
"It's nice to win those close games, they're the ones you look back to and it was enjoyable, that 10 minutes post-game.
It is a massive game for the northwestern neighbours, who have a fierce rivalry.
North, one of this season's biggest surprises, are eighth on the ladder but a loss will mean they lose that spot.
Essendon have four of their past five games to be on the fringes of finals contention, two games plus percentage behind North with eight rounds left.
"To win four out of five is obviously super but the position we put ourselves in earlier in the year means we have to keep winning - every week's important," Bombers star Zach Merrett said.
Daw said the game would have an extra edge because they were playing Essendon, noting retired stars such as Brent Harvey and Drew Petrie talked to the current players about the rivalry.
It's the biggest game between the two teams since the 2014 elimination final, when North roared back from four goals at halftime down to win by 12 points.
"You always look back to that final at the MCG - just the passion within that game," Daw said.
"The boys always look back to it, especially Sam Wright taking that mark in the last quarter."
North will regain Ben Jacobs and he will tag Merrett, while Ryan Clarke is their other inclusion.
Essendon's Travis Colyer is back for his first senior game this season and Patrick Ambrose has also returned.
The Bulldogs' small forward line challenged Daw and his fellow defenders last week and he expects the same from the Bombers, who have adapted without injured All Australian spearhead Joe Daniher.
"They're a versatile team. They have some small forwards who really work up the ground ... that's what the Western Bulldogs did to us," Daw said.