Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley believes the Magpies are better placed compared to any other point in 2020 after overcoming "significant" challenges upon leaving Victoria.
The Magpies took a giant step towards securing an AFL finals berth for a third-straight season when they accounted for arch-rivals Carlton last Sunday.
With elite players Jordan De Goey, Jeremy Howe and Steele Sidebottom potentially still to return, optimism is growing Collingwood can mount an unlikely charge at the premiership.
The Magpies will get a good test of how they are travelling on Friday night when they play Brisbane at the Gabba, the home of this year's grand final.
Buckley concedes times were tricky after leaving Victoria in July to enter quarantine hubs in Western Australia and Queensland, seeing Collingwood fall outside the top eight.
"We have had our moments individually and collectively over the last three or four months," he told reporters.
"You can get ground down and get to a point where it's just hard to find that motivation and purpose. Purpose is so important in what you're doing.
"We've ground out a period where we were struggling on the field and were probably reflective of challenges off it.
"Sometimes it's form, sometimes it's not knowing what 2021 looks like.
"We've dealt with a lot of these, what would seem like small issues, but when you add them all up they are quite significant.
"We're in as good a nick as we've been this year."
Buckley said veteran utility Chris Mayne is a "sore boy" are undergoing surgery on a fractured cheekbone suffered in a monster collision with Blues star Patrick Cripps on Sunday.
"He did say to me a couple of hours ago he'd be right to go pretty soon so we'll give him that time," Buckley said.