Fremantle will be aiming to thwart Essendon’s run-and-stun from defence when the two teams lock horns at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The Bombers (8-8) have revived their finals hopes following six wins from their past eight matches.
Fremantle are already out of the finals picture, but loom as somewhat of a banana skin for Essendon.
The Dockers beat top-four fancies Port Adelaide by nine points last week, showing they can still produce upsets even without Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands.
Essendon’s rebound from defence has played a key in their form revival, with recruit Adam Saad particularly damaging.
However, his partner in crime – Conor McKenna – will miss this week with a groin injury.
Andrew McGrath, Travis Colyer, and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti are all options to take over McKenna’s running role across half back.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon said his team were acutely aware of the need to curb Essendon’s rebound.
“I thought our centre-forward pressure – I think it was the best of the round last week,” Lyon said.
“The challenge is to repeat that, and then it should take care of itself.
“Previously we’ve played defensive forwards. Matt De Boer used to do that well, and Chris Mayne.
“We haven’t done that for a long time. You’ve just got to bank on that you’ve got to make him (your opponent) defend, and make him defend first and put some good pressure on.”
Essendon have been boosted by the return of small forward Orazio Fantasia (adductor) and 2011 club champion David Zaharakis (shoulder).
McKenna (groin) and Jake Long (dropped) go out of the side.
Fremantle lost Stephen Hill (quad) and Ryan Nyhuis (suspended), with the pair replaced by Darcy Tucker and Taylin Duman.
Essendon sit a win and 21.8 percentage points adrift of eighth spot.
It means they might need to win five of their remaining six games to make the finals.
That won’t be an easy feat considering their run home includes games against Sydney (home), Richmond (MCG), and Port Adelaide (away).