Essendon stopped playing.
This stark observation from coach James Hird summarised the horror of Sunday’s record 110-point AFL loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
The Bombers are in free fall with a five-game losing streak and that means even more pressure on Hird.
Throughout the club’s supplements crisis, the on-field resilience of the players had been a bedrock for the besieged club.
Not any more.
Essendon made the finals last year and for all St Kilda’s laudable improvement, the Bombers just should not be this bad.
But the 25.12 (162) to 8.4 (52) demolition was St Kilda’s biggest winning margin against Essendon.
The Bombers had a whopping 144 less disposals than the Saints – a record for Essendon since Champion Data started keeping AFL statistics.
Adding to the misery, it was the 200th game for captain Jobe Watson.
“They played for themselves and they play for a group that was challenged and they felt unfairly treated,” Hird said of the team during the supplements saga.
“They played for each other and there was a bond.
“Today, we stopped playing.
“That’s concerning when they go into themselves and they stop playing.
“That hasn’t happened very often over the last three or four years.”
With the bottom falling out of Essendon’s season, Hird knows it is added ammunition for his critics.
“It doesn’t challenge my belief but it certainly puts pressure on me,” he said.
“I still believe that I can coach this group, but it’s my own belief.
“Whether it’s other peoples’ belief, we’ll see.”
The Adelaide-Geelong game on Sunday at Adelaide Oval was cancelled in the wake of Phil Walsh’s horrific death.
Instead, fans flocked to the ground in their thousands as a mark of respect for the Crows coach as the AFL community reels from the tragedy.
On Friday night, hours after Walsh’s death, Hawthorn and Collingwood players formed a post-game huddle in the middle of the MCG as a moving tribute.
Other teams followed suit and all games over the weekend remembered Walsh.
Hawthorn held on to beat the Magpies by 10 points in a pulsating match.
The Western Bulldogs have consolidated their place in the top eight with a gritty 11-point win over Carlton, while West Coast thumped Melbourne by 54 points in Darwin.
North Melbourne have again disappointed, suffering an upset 55-point loss to Gold Coast in the wake of a horror week off the field for the Suns.
Richmond had a huge scare before beating GWS by nine points and Sydney opened the round on Thursday night with a 10-point win over Port Adelaide.