Geelong say returning star Travis Varcoe would have to defy logic to have a major impact this AFL season.
Foot stress fractures mean the Cats' clash with the Western Bulldogs on Sunday will be the agile 24-year-old's first AFL game since starring in last year's grand final win.
Forward Allen Christensen also returns from injury for Geelong, while skipper Joel Selwood (soreness) is skipping the match.
After several setbacks in his recovery, coach Chris Scott says it is a bonus to have Varcoe back this season and they will not burden him with great expectations.
"We're not putting pressure on him to come in and significantly change the way we play," Scott told reporters this week.
"We think he's got the capacity to do that, but we want him coming in feeling pretty good about his body and feeling free about the way he plays and attacking the game.
"To be honest, if it doesn't work out for Trav it just makes sense doesn't it.
"It's illogical to suggest he could miss the whole year and come back and be a fantastic player at the end of the season.
"But knowing Trav the way we do we're not ruling that possibility out."
The seventh-placed Cats might climb a spot or two and clinch a home final if they win their remaining two home and away games, but Scott said that was not a major incentive.
"It's not the end of the world either way," he said.
"Chances are if you're going to play all the way through the finals from the bottom half of the eight you're going to have to play interstate at some point."
Scott has also backed the form of 2007 Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel, whose possession rate has dipped to its lowest in seven years this season, saying that reflects a changed role, not decreased value.
"There's no doubt if you play him as an inside midfielder every single minute of every single week he would get more of the ball and be able to hunt the ball a little bit more," the coach said.
"The challenge for us is to work out where Jimmy's best value to the team is and we think that's in a number of roles and so does he.
"It's very difficult to describe his role this year, because he has moved around a fair bit.
"But I regard Jimmy Bartel as one of the best contested players in the competition."