Essendon recruit Devon Smith has enjoyed a happy homecoming at Spotless Stadium, starring in a 35-point victory that handed former side Greater Western Sydney their fourth straight AFL loss.
Smith, who requested a trade to the Bombers after he wasn't picked during the Giants' 2017 finals campaign, typified the visitors' pressure in a scrappy contest marred by a smoke haze that blanketed the ground.
Smith laid 13 tackles to be among the leading best-on-ground contenders on Saturday night, when Essendon triumphed 14.11 (95) to 8.12 (60).
Zach Merrett, Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis were also pivotal in the engine room for the Bombers, who banked back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
"They're just wins at the moment. We've got a long way to go," Bombers coach John Worsfold said.
"We've got a lot of hard work ahead of us to become a great team."
GWS, floated as premiership favourites earlier this year, have tallied just four wins from the opening 10 rounds and their crisis could worsen next week given they face Adelaide away.
"The one thing that hurt us all night is the tackle count (85-57 in Essendon's favour)," GWS coach Leon Cameron said.
"That was the most disappointing thing, because that hasn't been the major issue over the last two or three weeks.
"We just have to keep rocking up ... be mentally tougher on each other."
The hosts conceded the opening three goals on Saturday night then battled desperately for the next two-and-a-half quarters, during which there was no questioning their effort or intensity.
Harry Himmelberg was awarded a free kick in the opening minute of the final quarter and went within a whisker of putting GWS in front for the first time in the game.
Himmelberg's shot hit the post but the Giants seemingly had all the momentum, having reduced Essendon's lead to four points thanks to some desperate football from leaders Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio and Heath Shaw.
The Bombers had other ideas, seizing control with three goals in three minutes.
It started with a moment of madness from GWS defender Adam Tomlinson, who needlessly shoved James Stewart after his opponent marked the ball in Essendon's forward line.
The resultant 50m penalty gifted Stewart a goal and his side never looked back.
"Adam's going to be disappointed but look that's not the reason we got beaten," Cameron said.
"Adam will do everything for the footy club, so we can't sit here and say that moment was the turning point in the game."
GWS key forward Jeremy Cameron managed 2.3, missing a couple of important shots, while Jake Stringer and Mark Baguley each kicked three goals for the Bombers.