Essendon has suffered a 28-point loss to Geelong in its VFL season opener at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.
The Bombers started brightly with four of the first five scores, but were made to pay for their inaccurate goalkicking as the Cats held a 10-point lead at quarter-time.
The home side strengthened their ascendancy to lead by 51 points at the last change, before a five-goal-to-one final term restored some respectability for the Bombers in the 8.10 (58) to 12.14 (96) defeat.
The Bombers were able to get on top of clearances (39-33) but couldn’t control possession, comprehensively beaten in disposals (285-330) and marks (104-60).
Forward Kaine Baldwin made the most of limited opportunities to register three goals, 17 disposals and six marks, while first-year midfielder Ben Hobbs led the Bombers for disposals (21), clearances (nine) and tackles (seven).
Hobbs was among five AFL-listed Bombers playing their first VFL games for Essendon, joining Baldwin, Garrett McDonagh (17 disposals), Alastair Lord (nine disposals) and Patrick Voss (one goal, 12 disposals).
Captain Joe Atley battled hard all afternoon to lead all comers for disposals (31) and clearances (14), while VFL recruits Will Golds and Ben Jolley (20 disposals each) were also busy.
The Bombers will be on the road again this week when they face Casey Demons at Casey Fields from 3:05pm on Saturday.
The match will be streamed live on Kayo, AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App.
GEELONG 3.2 7.6 10.12 12.14 (86)
ESSENDON 1.4 2.5 3.5 8.10 (58)
Goals: Baldwin 3, Sutton 2, Phillips, Voss, Weightman
Disposals: Atley 31, Hobbs 21, Golds 20, Jolley 20