Hird was reasonably happy with the Bombers opening week performance in the NAB Cup with a comfortable win over the Western Bulldogs and close loss to Collingwood, but he was far from pleased with what he saw in last week's loss to Richmond in Wangaratta.
Against the GWS Giants in Canberra on Friday night, Hird desperately wanted to see a better defensive performance from his side and an improved effort around the contest.
He got both in spades, but what he continues to be most impressed with when it comes to his playing group is the character they are showing to not be distracted with the controversy and investigation that is hanging over the club's head.
"Sometimes you need events to happen to work out who the quality people are, and we have lots of quality people at our football club," Hird said.
"I've said it a number of times and there is an on-going investigation going on, but the resilience of these footballers of the Essendon Football Club at the moment to go and play, and train the way they are shows the character of the people they are."
Hird felt his team was beaten around the contest by Richmond, but that was vastly improved against the Giants winning a massive 404 possessions to 247, 44 clearances to 24, 139 contested possessions to 111 and a thumping inside-50 entries to 26.
Not only did Hird like the fact that the Bombers kicked a super goal and 16 regular six-point goals, but also that defensively they kept the Giants to just 4.4.
"We weren’t happy with the way we played around the contest last week. We have a game in two weeks time against one of the best contested clearance teams in the competition, the Adelaide Crows. We know what that game's going to look like and we need to prepare for it," he said.
"I think for us we needed some quality football. We thought we performed reasonably well in the first NAB Cup, but we weren’t happy with last week where Richmond dominated us throughout the game.
"Our focus this week was to go and be good defensively, and we kept them to 25 forward entries and eight shots on goal, so that was pleasing."
Hird likes the way his midfield is shaping up but he also knows that it needs to ahead of the Round 1 clash against the Crows in Adelaide.
The midfield on Friday in Canberra was terrific with Jobe Watson picking up 31 possessions, Brent Stanton 27, Brendon Goddard 26, Michael Hibberd 24, David Myers 22, Dyson Heppell 21, Heath Hocking 18 and Ben Howlett 16.
Hird was especially impressed with Goddard and Heppell.
"We had some real quality in the midfield. Heppell's progression has been there for everyone to see. It's been a steady progression after he started at a high level, and he's only getting better," Hird said.
"We are really confident he will have a big year as long as he keeps working hard. Obviously Brendon is a class player and has been for 10 years. He has spent a lot of time behind the ball and around the ball, and tonight he played a role we wanted him to play which was all over the ground.
"With Heppell, Goddard, Watson, Howlett, Hocking, Nathan Lovett-Murray, David Myers and David Zaharakis when he comes back next week then we've got some depth there and quality to use around the ball."