After rupturing cruciate knee ligaments, Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan returned to the fray in the second-half of City's 6-0 drubbing of Watford on Saturday - following nine agonising months on the sidelines.
The midfielder, while taking some time to reflect on the injury, has however conceded the fact that he may never be the same player again.
The German's elation in taking to the pitch once again was overshadowed by the realisation that after two major operations he could indeed struggle to reach the same level he was at before he was condemned to watching the previous campaign from the terraces.
The 26-year-old confessed - via a report published by Mirror: “There are doubts if I will be at the same level I had before.”
Pep Guardiola puts City's shortcomings last season down to Gundogan's absence from the starting XI, and although he is finally available for selection once again, the holding presence in the centre of the park knows that there is still a long road ahead of him, if he's to climb to the summit of his personal ability.
Gundogan - who cost the Citizens £20m 15-months ago in order to lure his signature from Borussia Dortmund - added: “I did not have doubts that I would play any more – I was quite sure I would come back.
“Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are quite common so you have surgery, the doctors know what they are doing and the physios know how to rehabilitate the player, so it is nothing special.
“But of course it is a long recovery and this is my second (major) knee injury. If I said I am the same player now as I was a year ago, I would be lying.
“I mean, through the injury, you don’t feel the same. You don’t feel as though you are the most powerful guy in the world – not that I ever did.
“But there are doubts if I will be again at the level I had before. You have ups and downs, which is quite normal. Some days you feel better, some days you feel really bad, and sometimes it is frustrating."