Melbourne coach Paul Roos admits it could have been the latest in a long line of AFL hidings for the Demons.
Instead, he was hailing his players’ guts and focus after they roared back in the second half to beat Essendon by one point.
As the 12.6 (78) to 10.17 (77) scoreline indicates, the Bombers only had themselves to blame.
Essendon won the key inside 50s statistic by a whopping 69-36.
But after the Bombers broke the game open early in the third term to lead by 33 points, Melbourne hunkered down and wrested control from them.
“They should have put us away, we certainly dodged a bullet at halftime,” Roos said.
“I think we only had 11 inside 50s and we were playing pretty poorly.
“Full credit to our guys, it could have easily been a 70, 80-point loss.
“We were pretty fortunate, but to come back and really compete and give yourself a chance to win, I think that was a significant step forward.
“But then to win was really exciting.”
Melbourne did not hit the front until midway through the last quarter, when Dean Kent took three bounces and kicked an outstanding goal.
Roos called it the best goal he has seen this season.
David Zaharakis then kicked two of his four goals to put Essendon back in front.
Brent Stanton had another shot, but Melbourne defender Lynden Dunn capped his best-afield performance by rushing it through for a behind.
With just over a minute left, Melbourne were magnificent as they took the ball from their back pocket to the other end of the ground.
First-year player Christian Salem marked and coolly kicked the biggest goal of his life, with the Demons then holding on for the win.
Essendon coach Mark Thompson kept his players behind closed doors for 45 minutes post-match.
He insisted the lengthy review had nothing to do with the club’s well-documented off-field dramas and everything to do with the way they are playing.
Asked what was discussed, Thompson said: “kicking, structures, stoppages, shots at goal, defensive skills, handballing, everything.”
Thompson added if Essendon had won by five points or lost by 10 points, he would have been equally unhappy given the way they played.
“I’m not upset that we lost – I’m upset with the inconsistency and the way we go about some games,” he said.
Thompson has accused some players of doing what they want and added other teammates are letting them get away with it.