Jonny Wilkinson's appalling injury record once convinced the England fly-half his international career was finished.
Since helping England win the 2003 World Cup, Wilkinson has been plagued by a series of injuries that at times raised doubts over whether he would play again.
But the 30-year-old has been revived at French club Toulon, where he has been in impressive form after returning to full fitness.
His comeback will be completed when he lines up against Australia on November 7, with the atmosphere in the England camp already reviving memories of 2003.
"I probably did fear this day would never come," said Wilkinson. "I was out for a long time and when I did come back in they were funny little cameo appearances.
"There's something about being back in an environment which is all about the players and getting the best out of them. It's an amazing feeling.
"You get flashbacks to a few years when we were in this hotel before the 2003 World Cup. It's got that good feeling about it."
Heightened expectations accompany any Wilkinson comeback and there is a danger there will be too much pressure on his shoulders to perform in an England side that has been decimated by injury.
But he will make his first Test appearance since March 2008 comforted by the knowledge he can only do his best.
"We've had the 'It's all right, Jonny's back' thing before. It seemed to end rather miserably that time," he said. "It's a funny story, but it just doesn't affect me and my decision-making.
"You hit every game with absolutely everything you've got and keep doing that until the final whistle.
"No-one more than myself looks round the changing room before a game and thinks 'thank God I'm surrounded by guys like these'.
"My perspective of my own game is one where I just try to use a bit more of my wisdom from the experiences I've had.
"What hasn't changed as I've got older is that I want to make the most of every opportunity. I don't like to leave anything in the changing room for a rainy day. I don't like to save stuff for next week.
"But at the same time, my definition of giving it everything I've got has changed a little bit. My younger outlook was running headlong into everything.
"Now I want to use the same energy but by the end of the game I want to make sure I'm in the right position and doing the right things."
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.