Essendon captain Dyson Heppell expects the battling club to come "flying out" of its tough period should their AFL fortunes take a turn for the better.
The Bombers (2-7) have been the subject of fierce criticism after a thrashing from Sydney in Heppell's 200th game left them languishing in 16th spot on the ladder.
In the fallout, club legend Matthew Lloyd slammed Essendon's current players for being "walked all over" and "disrespected" by the Swans.
Heppell concedes he sounds "overly optimistic" but insists there is light at the end of the tunnel.
"I've been through periods like this and if you approach it in the right way, you have the right mindset and you stick together, you come flying out of these periods," Heppell told Fox Footy.
"You learn so much and you're more galvanised as a playing list, so no doubt I firmly believe that will happen.
"It may sound repetitive, but history has shown when we've been in periods like this we have bounced out of them."
Essendon recovered from a 2-6 start in 2021 to reach the finals, where they lost in week one.
"We had a season last year where we stood for a real identity and everyone was right behind us," Heppell said.
"We had this wave of momentum coming and I have every faith that we can get back to that.
"You see times like Richmond in the past, Melbourne getting questioned a lot of times, and within the space of half a season or 12 months they're premiership clubs.
"Some of the best teams go through this."
Essendon now prepare for the annual 'Dreamtime' clash with Richmond at the MCG.
Heppell said the Bombers will not shy away from the fact they put in another disappointing performance against Sydney, in which they laid just 30 tackles.
"We want to work on that, we're going to go to work," Heppell said.
"I know (people) say we've been saying these things, but we will. We'll bury in and we'll get better.
"I have full trust in the playing group, the character of the group, the belief that we have in each other.
"But when you're going through periods and you're trying to seek validation from results and they're just not coming, you do tend to lack confidence, with a lot of young players in the group as well."
Essendon had some sorely needed good news on Tuesday when young gun Archie Perkins re-signed for two years.
The No.9 pick in the 2020 draft was a Rising Star nominee last year and said he has loved his time at the club, despite this year's troubles.
"We are disappointed at the moment with our on-field results, but I'm very confident that we have a core group of young players who have a lot of potential and will take this club forward," he said in a club statement.
Australian Associated Press
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