THEY had a point to prove, and in the end it was a single point that showed Collingwood was still one of the teams to beat in this year's AFL premiership race.
In the closest Anzac Day clash since the draw in the first game between the teams back in 1995, Collingwood came from behind to snatch victory in a thriller against Essendon, 11.14 (80) to 11.13 (79).
After trailing for most of the match, the Bombers staged a last-quarter revival to hit the front courtesy of a Brent Stanton-snap with just two minutes on the clock.
But just as it had done all day, Collingwood found a way to hit back, Jarryd Blair soccering one off the ground to put the Pies back in front by a point with 90 seconds remaining.
Players from both sides threw themselves into the fray, and Essendon forward Stewart Crameri, well held all day by Nathan Brown who was playing his first game in 16 months, got his hands to a mark in front of goal with seconds left, but it just slipped from his grasp.
While Essendon had its chance, Collingwood would have been unlucky to lose after appearing to be in control for much of the game.
Dane Swan was unstoppable, picking up 42 touches and three goals to be a deserving winner of the Anzac Day medal.
He was well supported by fellow midfielders Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams, the trio finishing with an astonishing 106 disposals between them.
Key defenders Harry O'Brien and Nick Maxwell were also outstanding, providing enormous rebound out of defence despite Essendon coach James Hird saying in the lead-up that he would not allow them to roam free.
COLLINGWOOD: 2.4 5.6 9.8 11.14 (80)
Goals: Cloke, Swan 3; Blair 2, Sidebottom, Jolly, Beams.
Best: Swan, Clarke, Pendlebury, Beams, Wellingham, Toovey.
ESSENDON 1.3 3.6 7.8 11.13 (79)
Goals: Davey 3; Zaharakis 2; Monfries, Hocking, Howlett, Lonergan, Dell'Olio, Stanton.
Best: Zaharakis, Heppell, Howlett, Dyson, Lonergan.
Crowd: 86,932 at the MCG.