Henry Shefflin must face another winter of rehab after receiving confirmation that he requires surgery on a broken bone in his left foot.
Kilkenny's 'Hurler of the Year' went off injured during Ballyhale's Leinster club Championship defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh on December 1, but the problem was initially thought to be just a badly sprained ankle.
A CAT scan, however, has revealed ligament damage and a break in his left mid-foot and Shefflin confirmed to the Irish Independent that he will now miss the All-Ireland champions' team holiday in New York and Jamaica next month to undergo surgery at Aut Even hospital in Kilkenny.
Remarkably, it is the fourth time in five years that the 11-time All Star has faced serious winter surgery and it is thought that he will now be on crutches until the beginning of March.
The 33-year-old has just completed a scarcely believable comeback from a career-threatening shoulder injury to win his record ninth All-Ireland medal, having struggled desperately to recover full mobility from an operation carried out last December.
He was unable even to puck a ball against the wall of his parents' home the Monday before Kilkenny's Leinster semi-final against Dublin in June, yet played that game in Portlaoise to maintain his record of having started every championship game played under Brian Cody's stewardship.
And Shefflin's year subsequently went from strength to strength, culminating in arguably his greatest ever performance in the drawn All-Ireland final against Galway, when many Kilkenny players struggled to find their best form.
Kilkenny won the replay to edge Shefflin past those old greats of the game, John Doyle and Christy Ring, with that ninth medal and he then immediately immersed himself in Ballyhale's push to a 14th county title.
Victory in the final against Dicksboro pitched them into a provincial campaign that came up short two weeks ago in Wexford, Shefflin limping out of the game against Oulart six minutes before half-time.
He has worn a protective boot since, but foot specialist Alan Laing confirmed the bad news to him last weekend that the injury is significantly more serious than was initially believed.
Last night, Shefflin admitted: "I can't believe I'm facing into surgery again because I was really looking forward to an injury-free winter. I'll hopefully have the operation in early January and it'll be two months on crutches after that. I suppose it's not the worst time of year for it to happen.
"Put it this way, if you offered me at the start of the year to have the season I had, but I'd need a foot operation at the end of it, I'd have taken your hand off."