No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh and VFL star Michael Gibbons have pencilled their names in on Carlton's round one team sheet with eye-catching displays in a hard-fought nine-point pre-season win over Essendon.
The Blues led by 34 points early in the final term at Ikon Park but had to withstand a late flurry by the Bombers - who cut the margin to three points - before prevailing 15.10 (100) to 14.7 (91).
Putting aside the scoreline, there was plenty to like for both sets of fans in the crowd of 8,215 that braved the heat on Thursday evening.
For the Blues, Walsh oozed class in a 28-possession performance and Gibbons kicked goals with his first two touches to finish with three.
"He's got a real desperation to be a really good player, which is a great thing to have at the footy club," assistant coach Dale Amos said of Walsh.
"He's been impressive and it wasn't just the game today, it's been his whole pre-season."
Star skipper Patrick Cripps led the way with 33 touches and two goals, with former captain Marc Murphy (22 disposals) moving freely after copping a knock to a knee in a scratch match against Hawthorn.
Charlie Curnow landed awkwardly in a marking contest in the second quarter and was rested in what the club said was a precautionary move only.
Bombers' No.1 draft pick Andy McGrath was instrumental, lifting his side back into the contest with prime movers Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett rested in the second half.
He finished with 25 possessions and two goals, with Jake Stringer and Mitch Brown booting three goals apiece.
Perhaps most heartening for Essendon fans was the sight of a fit Joe Daniher playing his first match since round seven last season when he succumbed to osteitis pubis.
Daniher kicked the first goal of the game and will be better for the run.
"With the period of time he's been out I reckon it really excited Joe to be back out there playing with the group," assistant coach Mark Harvey said.
"He took a couple of good marks and looked a bit scratchy at times but most of our players did.
"I'm sure in the coming weeks you're going to see him hitting his straps."
Former Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke impressed with 37 hitouts and a goal in his return to AFL football.
Star recruit Dylan Shiel limped from the field in the last quarter and was rested a corked thigh.