Essendon have no excuses and no distractions as they attempt to win their first final since 2004 next year.
Maroon 5 topped the Australian music charts, John Howard was still the Prime Minister and Port Adelaide were about to win their first flag when the Bombers beat Melbourne in an elimination final over 5,000 days ago..
The disastrous 2012 supplements scandal and the resulting suspensions were clearly a major impediment to on-field success in that period.
Even the addition of Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad for the 2018 campaign provided early headaches as John Worsfold tried to bed down a new game plan.
But chief executive Xavier Campbell says the coast is clear for on-field success and a finals win in 2019.
“I think it’s a really clear run at it for our football club (now),” Campbell said.
“Obviously there have been a range of distractions over the years but now we’re certainly at a point – and John has spoken about this – that we don’t have those distractions, our peripheral vision isn’t clouded any more and that’s exciting.
“We’re very conscious of (the finals drought), there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve got a strategy we put in place, our list build has been quite clear, we’ve been very transparent in what we’re trying to achieve.
“It does feel like we’re in an exciting position but the competition is more even than it’s ever been.”
Campbell spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the club’s Tullamarine headquarters which will undergo a $20 million upgrade next year.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten was on hand to pledge $4 million for the project should Labor win next year’s federal election.
The Bombers will contribute half the cost of the upgrade, which will also boost facilities for the Australian Paralympic Committee, and include a new Bombers museum and hall of fame.