Essendon's third-quarter malaise has doomed them again in their 23-point AFL loss to Hawthorn at the MCG.
After a week of debate about the state of the game, the Hawks' 13-12 (90) to 10.7 (67) win at the MCG was Exhibit A for concerns about congestion and low scoring.
Only nine goals were scored in the first half, despite ideal autumn conditions.
The Hawks then cut loose in the third quarter with 6.3 to a solitary rushed behind.
That turned the Bombers' seven-point halftime lead into a decisive 31-point advantage for the Hawks at the last change.
Essendon's are the only team not to win any third terms after seven rounds this season.
Essendon have lost their third quarters by a combined 136 points.
More importantly, they have also lost their last three matches.
With key players such as Joe Daniher and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti noticeably out of form, they are well off the top-eight pace.
Returning from his second suspension this season , fiery Hawks centre half back James Sicily was best afield with 14 marks and 29 possessions..
Midway through the third quarter, Essendon were 11 points down and struggling when Daniher gave away a 50m penalty off Sicily.
Sicily then kicked a booming 50m-plus goal that confirmed the Hawks had control of the match.
Essendon did not kick a goal from 18 minutes into the second quarter until seven minutes into the last.
Daniher's first goal in his 100th match sparked a mini-surge for the Bombers, who kicked three in a row and reduced the margin to a gettable 22 points with plenty of time left.
But two quick Hawthorn goals killed off the unlikely challenge.
After two matches without any goals, Hawks captain Jarryd Roughead kicked three to be high among their best.
After losing Ricky Henderson as a late withdrawal with illness, Hawthorn also had to rule out Will Langford in the warm up because of back spasms.
Ruckman Tom Bellchambers and defender Cale Hooker were best for Essendon.