Essendon coach John Worsfold says it's hard to get a gauge on his AFL side after escaping with a gritty three-point triumph against Adelaide.
Zach Merrett's midfield mastery was vital in the Bombers' 9.8 (62) to 8.11 (59) victory on Sunday afternoon at Adelaide Oval.
Merrett collected 33 disposals as Essendon banked their fifth win of the season.
But Worsfold says it's so hard to judge just where his club sits in the pecking order, he won't even bother trying.
"It is tough. And therefore, we're not spending really any energy or time on that," he said.
"We are really focused on improving the group.
"And we have been confident all the way through that we will continue to improve as the year goes on.
"From our perspective, we are seeing a lot of really good stuff in the way we want to move the ball.
"But we also know there's a lot of habits that we need to keep addressing ... to get better at."
Essendon's Jayden Laverde was added to the injury list when his right ankle twisted awkwardly in a second-term tackle.
"He obviously couldn't come back on so he was pretty sore," Worsfold said.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks was feeling a different pain after his club's record losing streak extended to 11 games, across two seasons.
Compounding the loss, Adelaide's acting captain Tom Doedee and prime mover Brad Crouch both suffered hamstring injuries.
"You feel gutted after losses like that, where you had a real opportunity to win," Nicks said.
"That one hurt ... to be 19, 20 points down and have two (injured) guys on the bench, we were backs to the wall.
"The boys showed some really good character in the second half to fight it out.
"But again, polish and finish and inflicting damage, or lack thereof - it hurts you eventually."
Adelaide's Matt Crouch and Essendon's Jacob Townsend were both reported for headbutting each other moments after the halftime siren.
The pair faced off and were pulling each other's jumpers when their heads clashed, seemingly accidentally.
Essendon's Merrett was clearly best-afield while teammates Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Kyle Langford and Ned Cahill each booted two goals.
Adelaide halfback Will Hamill (17 disposals) continued his impressive first AFL season and Lachlan Murphy slotted three goals and Taylor Walker kicked two.