An opportunity for redemption beckons.
Fixated on atoning for last week's loss, St Kilda is primed to come out firing against the winless Essendon in the hopes of boosting its ledger to 2-1.
But while the Bombers may be down through injury and circumstance, they're certainly not out.
The contest is on. What will determine the result is who's hungrier to succeed.
Round 3 | 2021
Essendon v St Kilda
Saturday 3 April
Marvel Stadium, 4:35pm
Broadcast live on Fox Footy
The key storylines
1. Turning it around
After each suffering demoralising defeats last weekend at the hands of Melbourne and Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Essendon will be desperate to make amends on Saturday afternoon.
Essendon has started the season with two losses, but has strung together good, flowing periods of play in both games.
While the Bombers will be without a few of their key tall players for Saturday afternoon, and have lost important midfielders Dylan Shiel and Jye Caldwell to injury last week, they cannot be taken lightly as they seek to open their 2021 account.
A win for the red, white and black will see their ledger improve to 2-1, which will be vital heading into the next stretch of matches against top-four fancies West Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide.
2. Ex-Bombers to assume ruck duties
With first-choice rucks out of the side for both the Saints and Bombers, the two teams will look at alternate avenues to gain an advantage in the hit-outs.
For the Saints, it will be ex-Essendon duo Jake Carlisle and Shaun McKernan who will take the reins, with the former holding the No. 1 role for Sandringham last weekend.
The Bombers will be relying on Peter Wright to get the job done through the middle, but will also have tall timber Cale Hooker and Nik Cox as support.
3. Ton up for Steele
Skipper Jack Steele will be hunting for a win as he tips into triple figures on Saturday afternoon.
Steele played 17 matches for GWS before making his way over to RSEA Park, where he has since established himself as one of the competition's premier on-ballers.
The soon-to-be 100-gamer caught the competition alight last season, taking out Best & Fairest and All-Australian honours before finishing equal-third in the Brownlow Medal count.
Hunter Clark will also play his 50th senior game after being selected as a top-10 pick in the 2017 National Draft.
Trade recruit Brad Crouch will be one of four new inclusions for St Kilda, with Mason Wood, Jake Carlisle and Daniel McKenzie joining the ex-Crow on Saturday afternoon.
Omitted quartet Ben Long, Paul Hunter, Jack Bytel and Tom Highmore make way for the incoming Saints, while Jimmy Webster will miss with concussion.
Essendon have similarly swung the axe with six changes, with injured midfield trio Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Sam Draper among those taken out of the starting line-up. Martin Gleeson, Tom Cutler and Ned Cahill round out the omissions.
The Bombers will regain Jake Stringer for Saturday afternoon, with Matt Guelfi, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and debutants Archie Perkins and Alec Waterman joining the 138-game forward.
IN: Carlisle, Crouch (new), McKenzie, Wood
OUT: Bytel (omitted), Highmore (omitted), Hunter (omitted), Long (omitted), Webster (concussion)
Where the match is won
Under Ben Rutten, Essendon tend to play wide out of defence before adopting a direct style through midfield, mixed with dynamic handballing, to set up scoring opportunities.
This can lead to plenty of contested ball, and gives the Saints a chance to hurt their opposition from turnover and through their own attacking transition play.
If the Saints can work their way on top of the midfield, it should be a good day for forwards like Max King and Tim Membrey and the fleet of forward crumbers.
Some words from Ratts
Digging through the record books…
Long-suffering Saints fans would remember some dry spells against Essendon – particularly through the 1980s – but the club's three biggest winning margins against the Bombers have come in the last 20 encounters.
In the final round of 2008, the Saints needed to beat Essendon by over 100 points to secure the finals double-chance, prevailing by 108 with Stephen Milne kicking seven goals and Nick Riewoldt four.
On the radar…
Now in Bombers colours, the pacy Nicholas Hind could prove to be a damaging asset to St Kilda's hopes of a win under the roof.
Hind has relocated to half-back during his time at the Hanger, utilising his pace and dash to launch Essendon into its attacking half.
The 26-year-old has notched up 13 rebounds from his past two matches, tipped past 20 disposals on consecutive occasions and amassed eight inside-50s in the Bombers' one-point loss to Hawthorn in Round 1.
Others to watch: McGrath, Parish, Smith, Merrett, Stringer
Keep an eye on…
Saints fans will get their first full taste of Brad Crouch on Saturday afternoon, with the 27-year-old making his club debut after missing the first two matches of the year.
The No. 5 took part in St Kilda's scratch match against North Melbourne and played restricted game-time against Carlton in the AAMI Community Series, and last fortnight full match for Sandringham in preparation for his maiden senior appearance in red, white and black.
Crouch is set to bolster the Saints' inside stocks moving forward, with Development and Sandringham Senior Coach Jake Batchelor praising his combination with fellow on-ball bull Zak Jones at VFL level.
Last time we met…
Despite bus delays slicing the Saints' preparation time in half, Brett Ratten's barely had to shift gears to easily account for an injury-hit Essendon by 35 points.
Rowan Marshall was close to best-on-ground (16 disposals, 15 hit-outs, eight marks) to allow milestone man Zak Jones (26 disposals, five clearances), Jack Steele (21 disposals, six clearances), Bradley Hill (17 disposals) and Jack Billings (23 disposals, four inside-50s) to work their way on top of the midfield.
Paddy Ryder and Josh Battle were equally dominant in the air, while Max King snared three goals to earn a nomination for the NAB Rising Star.
ST KILDA 4.4 7.5 9.5 10.8 (68)
ESSENDON 1.0 2.0 4.1 5.3 (33)
St Kilda: King 3, Membrey 2, Hind, Battle, Butler, Ryder, Lonie
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti, Begley, Saad, Townsend, Langford
St Kilda: Ryder, Battle, Coffield, Steele, Jones, Marshall, Hill, Billings
Essendon: Parish, Shiel, Hurley, Ridley, McGrath, Saad
Marshall (3), Jones (2), Hill (1)
Moment of the match
A crisp cut-off and goal from Josh Battle marked one of the most impressive moments from St Kilda's triumph over Essendon.
The No. 26 rounded out his clinical afternoon with 18 disposals, nine marks, five rebound-50s and a goal to boot.