Olivia Purcell thought she would struggle to play any football in 2022.
But those fears have proven unfounded as the star Melbourne midfielder prepares for her second AFLW grand final in seven months.
In a bizarre quirk of the women's season being pushed to an August-November window, the Demons will quickly get an opportunity to make amends for their loss to Adelaide in the April decider.
Purcell has made a huge impact since moving from Geelong to the Demons ahead of last season, taking best-on-ground honours with a superb performance in Melbourne's qualifying-final victory three weeks ago.
She finished fifth on Tuesday night in a tight AFLW best-and-fairest count behind the Brisbane Lions' shock winner Ally Anderson, as well as making the All-Australian team.
After rupturing her ACL in February 2021, the 22-year-old kept her ambitions grounded following the shift from the Cats.
However, Purcell's recovery went better than expected and she was able to play six games, including the grand final, in what would be the first of two campaigns in 2022.
"I wasn't even sure if I'd be playing last season at all," Purcell told AAP.
"To play the last few games and then to play finals that was a pretty crazy experience in itself.
"That just shows how good the club is dealing with players that have long-term injuries.
"I feel like from my rehab it set me up pretty well for this season.
"I felt like I didn't really put any expectations of myself last season because I knew I was coming back from injury.
"Once we found out that we were going to play another season I was like this is pretty good timing to have a good crack again."
Melbourne will enter Sunday's grand final against Brisbane as underdogs with the grand final to be played at their opposition's new Springfield complex.
The Demons edged the Lions in last season's preliminary final, but lost to the Queensland club in their last battle in September.
Purcell believes Melbourne's experience in their grand-final loss to the Crows will hold them in good stead this time around.
"I think it's a really good experience to have because we still have a young group and that was the first proper grand-final experience," she said.
"We didn't deserve to win it.
"So to go through that loss and feel that I still try and remind myself throughout the season how that feels.
"When I'm out there playing as well, I don't want to feel that again."