Carlos Edwards admits he is still to recapture the scintillating form with which he helped Sunderland win the Championship 18 months ago.
The pacy right-winger told the Football Echo: "For me, it has been nice to be out on the training pitch feeling fresh and raring to go.
"I've put last season behind me and I'm looking forward to this season as an important one for me.
"Pre-season has been fine because I played a few international games when the season ended and that meant I could catch up on the fitness I missed out on last season.
"There's no doubt that I have been coming from a long way back because I picked up a couple of injuries when we won promotion and then last season was pretty much wrecked for me with injuries.
"But, when I came back in pre-season, I felt as fit if not fitter than most of the lads."
The pace of the Trinidad and Tobago international would be an asset to any side, but Edwards says that it is not so much his speed that he is working on as the ability to bring out the skill and shooting ability which set him apart from the rest in the Championship.
He admitted: "I might need a few games to get my confidence back, because I didn't play much football in pre-season.
"But the time I did play, I felt good and confident and now I just want to get on with it."
This week, Sunderland completed their seventh and eight signings on the summer – Djibril Cisse and David Healy – and their new team-mates are aware that the club is moving to a higher level.
It's a level that the likes of Edwards are being challenged to rise to.
The 29-year-old former Luton and Wrexham star smiled: "When you see new players coming in, it's a good feeling.
"The quality they have has made one or two of us raise an eyebrow, but you want to be at a club going in the right direction rather than the wrong direction and that's part of the challenge.
"It's a healthy situation.
"And I know the gaffer loves doing this.
"He loves to improve the squad and be able to demand higher standards. We are relishing the challenge, though, and the good thing is that everyone is supportive of each other.
"The likes of Pascal and Dioufy enjoy the banter. Steed is still a quiet one, but everyone is bonding and enjoying the occasional wind up – that's football.
"There is a fun side of things, but, at the same time, it is a professional business.
"And the most important thing right here, right now is that everyone gives their best and tries to help getting the best out of each other."