Gary Ablett believes he is still capable of producing his very best football after a making successful comeback from shoulder surgery in his first AFL pre-season match in three years.
The dual Brownlow medallist collected 22 touches and kicked two goals in Gold Coast's 21-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs on Thursday.
Splitting his time evenly between midfield and the forward 50, Ablett was among the Suns' best but importantly, he looked as comfortable as he has for a while with his troublesome left shoulder.
"You can do all the contact work during the week but there's nothing like the contact that comes in a game," he said.
"It was good, I was able to lay a few tackles, the shoulder felt great and I'll be better for the run."
Restricted to just 20 games over the past two seasons due to injury problems, Ablett - who has relinquished the club's captaincy to Tom Lynch and Steven May - believes he can recapture the form that made him the AFL's most dominant player through the early part of the decade.
"I think so. My body's still feeling really good," he said.
"Obviously I've had the shoulder issues over the last 24 months and that's been really frustrating for me.
"I'm 32 years old now and I guess at times, you probably question your body at that age, but I got out and had a really good pre-season and I'm just happy with the way things are going."
Not that he cares too much about whether he is considered the game's number one player anymore.
"Everyone's welcome to their opinion. I don't think about it too much," he said.
"I go out each week to play as well as I possibly can and help the team.
"If at the end of the year the majority of people are calling me number one, great.
"If not, it doesn't faze me too much. It's a game, at the end of the day."
Ablett said he was not overly concerned with Gold Coast's second-half fadeout against the Bulldogs, crumbling after leading by as much as 49 points midway through the second term.
"They won the premiership last year and they had a pretty full side in as well, and we played good footy in the first half. I'm happy with that," he said.