Essendon trainer John Worsfold is wary of the intensity that North Melbourne will bring to the game on Saturday afternoon.
"The pressure they exert around the competition looks like it has been a focus for them," Worsfold said.
"I don't think (Ben) Cunnington has been more difficult in the past five weeks than he has always been.
"(Jack) Ziebell gets a little more time and he is clearly also a strong player.
"In general, the pressure around the competition has increased.
"They are in good shape, we are looking forward to it."
The ruck battle seems to be an important one, with in-form Todd Goldstein who will probably look after Zac Clarke.
Worsfold says there will be a plan to limit the 2015 All Australian contribution.
& # 39; We have the possibility that Zac Clarke will take over.
"We will all judge this and we will work out the way to do it, but it makes planning a bit easier in terms of Zac who is aware of what he is going against.
"The only thing we can ask of Zac is to play its role."
Dylan Clarke was a revelation for the bombers in a tagging role, and the Essendon coach says he has a chance to settle on the influential Cunnington.
Worsfold also hopes that two of his key figures will be ready Saturday afternoon, because Dyson Heppell and Michael Hurley want to prove their condition.
"We hope that he (Heppell) is ready to go. If it was very painful (foot), we would probably exclude him today. If it is still progressing, we will give him a few more days. See how it goes today, "Worsfold said.
"& # 39; Hurls & # 39; should be right, they just checked things to get a sense of where he was. & # 39;