In a year during which Jesse Hogan has battled testicular cancer, suffered the loss of his father to cancer and recovered from a broken collar bone to kick six goals in Melbourne's win over Brisbane on Sunday, the Demons forward said "it was good fun" to be back on the MCG.
Hogan admitted it had been difficult to reflect on his personal and professional challenges during the season, and said his football club, which is now poised to play finals for the first time since 2006, had been a huge support.
He had surgery on his broken collar bone on July 30, an injury he sustained the day before in the Demons' loss to North Melbourne. On Sunday, only two games and three weeks later, Hogan returned to Melbourne's side for the round 22 fixture against the Lions, which the Demons won by 13 points.
In May, Hogan was diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer and missed round eight to 15 recovering from surgery. Only weeks earlier, in April, he missed the round six match with Essendon after the death of his father, Tony, from cancer.
With all that behind him Hogan said the support of his club had been "phenomenal" and was vital in getting to where he stood on Sunday - reflecting on a six-goal performance that was the difference in the match.
"It [the challenging year] has been pretty hard to reflect on mid-season," Hogan said. "Probably come the end of the year I will be in a bit more of a reflective time but I think for me, I am not drawing on it too much.
"I just tried to get back into the club and around good people. If you go away and do your own thing you can get down on yourself so I had a week or two reflection after each [challenge] and then tried to get back into the club."
Hogan admitted he initially thought the broken collar bone would be a "12-week injury" and said he was still surprised he'd returned to football after missing just two matches.
"I was pretty flat and saw the surgeon the next day and he said I'll be running in four days and playing in two weeks, which kind of surprised me but he happened to be a Demons supporter so he was keen to get me back.
"My mindset swung pretty quick. We went from trying to get my body back to being right for the pre-season to, no we are still alive and can get a few games in before finals."
Hogan's coach Simon Goodwin said Hogan was "outstanding" in the win because he hit the scoreboard and played with aggression.
"It's terrific for Jesse. He has had a very difficult year but he has had a fantastic little period of training and when he broke his collar bone he was really keen to get back playing and have an impact for Melbourne this year."
Goodwin said the club had expected Hogan to return from the collar bone injury in 2017, but they were a little surprised he only needed two matches off and not three.
"He had a really good few weeks at the club. He is going to have fresh legs to end the year. He hasn't played a lot of footy. He is in a similar basket to Angus Brayshaw .... and Max Gawn," Goodwin said.
"We feel we have got some payers that are in our team that are fresh and vibrant."
Melbourne led the match by 32 points early in the final quarter and the Lions twice cut the margin to seven points with less than 10 minutes to play. However goals to Cam Pedersen and Angus Brayshaw restored a two-goal buffer, with Goodwin not too concerned his side had been pushed by a bottom-of-the-ladder team.
"Brisbane used the ball incredibly well," he said. "They had a number behind the footy ... they got a bit of momentum around contests as well, so that was an area we got on top of through the middle of the game but dropped away late."
He said he hadn't seen Bernie Vince's spoil, which collected Dayne Beams' head, an incident likely to come under MRP scrutiny.
"That's the way he [Vince] plays. He just attacks every contest the way he goes about his business. I think clearly we want him to do things within the rules but you know it is pretty tough these days as a player.
"You only have to have a little mishap here or there or you're in trouble so he plays the game that way, he attacks every contest he goes when it's his turn and every now and then he has probably got a bit wrong."
Goodwin said he had watched the dropped Jack Watts in Casey's VFL game on Saturday, and he said Watts performed strongly, like the rest of the side.
He also stressed that despite being one game clear in the final eight with one match to play "we still have a job to do" against Collingwood in round 23.
"It is exciting for our supporters, the opportunity of the position that we are in but the job's not done yet. It is not round 23. We haven't achieved anything just yet, we still have a lot of work to do," Goodwin said.