Casey Stoner's mid-season MotoGP misery came to a symbolic end at Phillip Island on Sunday, when the Ducati star - who skipped three races to try and cure mystery fatigue problems - returned to the top step of the podium.
It was Stoner's third home victory in a row, his first win since a wet/dry triumph at round five in Italy - the race before Stoner became aware of his illness - and his first 'non-stop' win since the season-opening night race in Qatar.
After a strong second place behind Jorge Lorenzo on his comeback ride at round 14 in Portugal, Stoner insisted he had got the better of his physical problems.
Others were less convinced, but the Australian Grand Prix proved beyond doubt that the 2007 world champion is a changed man, compared to the frustrated figure that faded backwards in the five races before his withdraw.
Stoner absorbed race-long pressure from reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi on his way to victory down under, the Italian legend only ceasing his relentless pursuit with a few corners to go.
By contrast, Stoner had finished an average of 13.7sec behind victory in the four dry races before his controversial break.
"I'd forgotten how good that winning feeling is and of all my victories this is perhaps the most special,” said Stoner, who celebrated his 24th birthday just before the weekend and was riding in a special patriotic livery.
“I can honestly say that from a physical perspective I can't ever remember feeling this strong after a race, which shows that the work we have done and the time we took out has been spot on.
“Physically I was the same from start to finish. Every lap that I kept going past the point where I used to hit my wall made me smile. I enjoyed each lap after that.”
Stoner took the lead from Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa on lap two of 27, and was never headed.
“I got a good start and was able to put together the lap times to keep us at the front but quite honestly I felt I could have gone even faster if we'd have been able to find a little more rear traction over the course of the weekend,” he said.