Danny Andrew said he ticked everything off his wishlist as he made his return to action for Doncaster Rovers.
The defender has been out since August after suffering cruciate ligament damage in the defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
But he made his long awaited comeback with 45 minutes for the club's Development Squad in a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.
And he said there was a list of situations he wanted to get through in order to truly test the strength of his knee.
"It's mixed emotions for me really," Andrew said on his return.
"It's been a long road to this moment.
"I'm still in the end stages of my rehab and I've only played 45 minutes today but we've got everything out of it that I wanted to.
"The pitch was quite bobbly so it tested my knee, twisting and turning.
"I got a good tackle in with one of their lads which for my own head helped me massively.
"It was a good hard challenge and me knee felt fine so all round it has been a good day."
Andrew played the first half at left back and put in a crunching block tackle which provided a real test of how well his knee has recovered.
And he explained the game was a good opportunity to show his rehabilitation had worked.
"It's a different intensity to training," the 27-year-old said. "You're trying to replicate a game in training but you can never get the real thing.
"This is the real thing. Different things occur, twisting and turning. The block tackles and things like that.
"I've come through it fine and the knee feels good."
Andrew was not only proving the strength of his knee to Rovers staff - he was also doing it for himself.
And he explained being mentally assured of his fitness is a major part of recovery.
"I think that's a lot of the situation," he said.
"All the tests show that your knee is fine but if you're not mentally ready there's a danger there.
"Things like this, little tests with a tackle, a twist or a turn, they help your head a lot.
"You get a little niggle in it but you feel like, 'you know what this actually feels fine, it's not painful.'
"It is a mental game as well."
Trialist Robbie Miller netted an equaliser for Rovers in the 1-1 draw, which featured Andy Williams, Issam Ben Khemis and Tyler Garratt playing a full 90 minutes.