Vincent Kompany believes his extended absence with a calf injury was a legacy of rushing back too quickly from a similar problem last season.
The Manchester City skipper was out for virtually two months before making a goalscoring return in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Newcastle. Kompany revealed he had never quite got back to full fitness last term, when his presence was essential to City's successful championship quest.
"Last season, when we were going towards the title, I didn't have enough time to do the real rehabilitation," he said.
"Usually it takes three or four weeks. We took four or five days. Eventually it catches up with you. Now I have taken the right amount of time and I have put in the right amount of work as well. If anything I feel really strong now."
Along with Sergio Aguero, Kompany's absence has proved to be a handicap City were not able to overcome. Now both men are back, though the only realistic aims are securing second spot and regaining the FA Cup. Yet Kompany is certain City would benefit from a positive final few weeks when they begin the challenge again next term.
"I feel there is still a lot to look forward to," he said. "Whichever way we finish this season might set us up for the next one.
"I always remember the way we finished the season before last. We ended on equal points with Chelsea, which was a massive boost, secured a place in the Champions League and also won the FA Cup. The year after that we went on to win the title. The end of one season has an impact on how you start the next one."
In the final analysis, manager Roberto Mancini will cite a lack of goals for his side's failure to retain the championship won in such thrilling fashion on the last day of last season.
With Carlos Tevez netting for the seventh time in eight games against the Magpies and Kompany scoring the first since his winner in last term's Manchester derby, it is easy to wonder both why City have ended up in this situation and also whether they are only hitting top form because the pressure valve has been turned off. Mancini denies the latter situation is true.
"When you play for a strong team like us, you always have pressure," he said. "You should have pressure. We are in second but we still have to work hard because Tottenham are close and Chelsea are the same."