It was like Scott Pendlebury had never been away.
With 36 touches in his first AFL match in six weeks and no loss of his viper-satin smoothness of movement, the Collingwood midfielder parachuted comfortably back into a Magpies side with its September credentials in neon.
Pendlebury was held back by Magpies medical staff for an extra two weeks to ensure no complications from the fractured bone in his leg which had sidelined him.
The plan worked perfectly - the added fitness allowing him to play the entire game without missing a beat in his side's 31-point win over Geelong at the MCG on Saturday night.
"The last few weeks I've felt like I've been building with my training ... it was good to get back out there and play again," Pendlebury said.
"I was confident in the work I'd done for two and a half weeks, being out on the track, getting the touch with the footy and extra running work held me in good stead.
"I was chasing my tail a bit early, but as the game went on I felt like I got into the flow of the game. Once you're in the flow, it feels pretty normal."
Coach Nathan Buckley admitted he found it hard to do anything else but wax lyrical about his star midfielder after his stellar return.
"He does everything right. We were tempted to bring him back three weeks ago, let alone last week or the week before," Buckley said.
"Sometimes you get tempted into making the short-term decision, but we believe we've made the right long-term decision.
"What we've missed we saw this evening, and we're looking forward to more of it."
Pendlebury's combination with Dane Swan and Dayne Beams through the midfield was pivotal in the Pies' 17.8 (110) to 10.19 (79) victory, buoying their hopes of securing a top four berth.
Their top four bid will come into even sharper focus next Saturday when the Magpies take on fellow flag aspirants Hawthorn at the MCG.