Former Essendon Bombers ace Matthew Lloyd believes the time has come for his former club to deliver a first Premiership success in more than two decades.
Lloyd was instrumental in heling Essendon secure the title back in 2000, with the Bombers 13/10 to secure a top eight finish and 18/1 to triumph in the Grand Final in the coming campaign.
Part of the reason for Lloyd laying down a challenge is the fact that Essendon made the end-of-season finals last term, their first under the charge of former assistant coach Ben Rutten.
Having finished eighth on the regular-season ladder, the Dons faced Western Bulldogs in an elimination final and were heavily beaten 13.7(85)-4.12(36).
And Lloyd was impressed with the way his former club went about things with Rutten at the helm, with the Bombers earning praise for a more attacking style of play.
He told 3AW: "I've been hard on Essendon for years, but I'm as excited as anyone in terms of the list make-up.
"I think they have a lot of talent, as much talent as the top four or five in the competition, but I'm holding because John Worsfold goes (in 2020), Rutten comes in and there's an immediate spike in performance and they make the finals."
"The honeymoon period is over. Everyone is ready for the Bombers and there's this expectation, so now we'll see what they’re truly made of."
The new AFL season is scheduled to get under way on Wednesday March 16th, when Melbourne Demons host Wester Bulldogs.
Three days later Essendon get their campaign started with a trip to Geelong.