Last season Stefan Mauk and his Brisbane Roar teammates didn't have much to smile about.
The attacking midfielder could only manage four appearances for the Roar before a groin injury sidelined him for the majority of the 2018-19 A-League campaign.
While Mauk was out, the man who brought him to the club - John Aloisi - resigned and all but seven of the squad were released following a horror season.
The Australian under-23 international returned for pre-season alongside 13 new players and a new coach in ex-Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler.
Mauk, who scored the opener in Brisbane's shock 2-0 FFA Cup win over Sydney FC on Wednesday at Leichhardt Oval, said the atmosphere had been transformed following Fowler's arrival.
"Everyone knows how disappointing last season was and he's just changed pretty much everything," Mauk told AAP.
"It's really refreshed everyone up.
"We come in to training with a smile on our faces. Sounds pretty basic but that's probably the most fundamental thing you can do as a footballer, enjoy coming in to work."
Mauk's successful return to action is just the first step he believes in making up for lost time at the Roar.
After winning the A-League championship with Adelaide United in 2016 before a move to Dutch Eredivisie club NEC Nijmegen - Mauk's career has stalled somewhat and he knows the 2019-20 campaign looms as a pivotal one for his future.
"I've got a bit of making up to do for missing last season," he said.
"'I've had a couple of good seasons when I was younger and the last couple haven't been as good - or heading in the right direction anyway - and I think finding that consistency is the most important thing as a player now that I'm getting a little bit older as well."
Australian Associated Press