The millstone that kept Doug Bollinger out of Test selection contention for the past three years has been shed.
While the 32-year-old will play on Boxing Day only if Ryan Harris' temperamental knee worsens, his retention in the Australian squad for the second consecutive Test marks his redemption in the eyes of selectors.
Bollinger's stocks fell more than any other player during the preceding home Ashes series in 2010-11, when he laboured his way to 1-130 from 29 overs in hot conditions in Adelaide.
One of Andrew Hilditch's final acts as chief Australian selector was to admit the left-armer's exclusion from the squad for a mid-2011 Test series in Sri Lanka was because he had lost the confidence of selectors.
''It was a difficult season for Doug in lots of respects.
''He obviously broke down in India in a Test match. He then, we thought, was … not quite ready for Test-match cricket in Adelaide and wasn't quite ready to bowl at full intensity for a whole Test match … and then had the [foot] injury which brought him home from the World Cup,'' Hilditch said, justifying Bollinger's exclusion.
''He's a very talented bowler and we think he can still get back to playing Test cricket, but we need to be satisfied that he can do so at full intensity.
''That's just critical at the moment because we're playing in an era where back-to-back Test matches are virtually inevitable.''
In the first two years after John Inverarity replaced Hilditch, the only time Bollinger earned selection was for a three-day tour match against India in late 2011.
Bollinger remained out of favour despite a decent 2012-13 Sheffield Shield season, in which he claimed 28 wickets at an average of 27.32.
It was during last season that Bollinger received a significant financial blow when his Indian Premier League team Chennai, for whom he had been a prolific wicket-taker during the 2011 and 2012 tournaments, released him from his annual $US700,000 contract.
Without an overseas playing deal, Bollinger demonstrated a marked improvement in his pre-season training regimen in Australia, so much so that it gained the attention of Cricket Australia's on-field hierarchy.
''I ran a lot and there were other things like dry July and dry November,'' Bollinger explained earlier this month. ''It helped, not drinking beer. But I've realised doing all the little and simple things right is what counts … [it] goes a long way.''
The benefit of that punishing routine was demonstrated in NSW's opening shield match of the season, when he claimed 6-62 at home to Tasmania.
His season record of 17 wickets at an average of 25.18 from his four matches was enough to get him elevated to a standby player in Perth, where he regularly exerted himself in training. He conspicuously did so again on Monday at the MCG.
Australia's Test bowling coach, Craig McDermott, who recently returned to the position after a 17-month absence, said on Monday he had been impressed by Bollinger's improvement in fitness.
''Dougie has always been a skilful bowler, no doubt about that, but he's in better shape than he was three years ago during the Ashes here,'' McDermott said.
''Like any bowler, it's about how you bowl late in the day, not the first spell of the day, so we've got to make sure anybody who comes into this side is in top physical nick and can bowl for five days.''
Bollinger's ability to produce devastating bursts of fast-bowling has never been in doubt, but his ability to maintain pace throughout a full day has been since he admitted he had been ''cooked'' against England in Adelaide.
Proof of Bollinger's improved endurance is that he has bowled at least 14 overs in a day on six occasions for NSW this season.
While Mitch Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle remain in front of Bollinger, his performances with the ball have eased selectors' doubts about his readiness for a recall.