Out of the national conversation for so long due to injury, Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak would have been forgiven for forgetting what Australia's footballing limelight might have felt like.
With all the talk centred around the health of Tim Cahill's ankle and whether the Aaron Mooy-Tom Rogic partnership would blossom in time to qualify for the World Cup, Jedinak had almost become the forgotten cog of the Socceroos midfield.
But following a very effective display in the first leg, Jedinak showed a ravenous hunger to lead Australia into the 2018 FIFA World Cup with an imperious midfield display against Honduras in Sydney.
"It was our duty as a nation of football players to get this job done. Now it's time to enjoy this moment and look forward to a big 2018," Jedinak said post-match.
The Socceroos booked their plane tickets to Russia with an emphatic 3-1 win over Honduras thanks to the heat-seeking boot of their captain fantastic.
A deflected own goal, plus two calmly-taken penalties to deflate the street-wise Hondurans sealed an incredible hat-trick for the defensive midfielder.
The third goal summed it up for Jedinak, who looked to take the briefest of moments after scoring the penalty to savour the moment, before pumping his fist in a primeval celebration with fans and players behind the goal.
But the goals, crucial as they were, only told part of the story.
Jedinak's chapter against Honduras will be headlined by the score, but will be defined by the immense authority he exerted on the Olympic stadium.
In what was his first full match in five months, the bearded Aston Villa battler made 73 touches all over the pitch, as he provided the perfect platform for Mooy and Rogic to dictate attacking play up front.
In what will be a World Cup template to work on when Australia is pitted against mighty European or South American teams, Jedinak screened his back line perfectly while Mark Milligan tried to find his feet in midfield.
Milligan worked hard throughout but was caught in two minds at times over whether he was needed further up field or closer to his centre-backs, but despite that uncertainty, Jedinak was there to mop up, calm things down, and restart Australia's attacks.
His passing was just a touch under metronomic, with 73 per cent completion, and conceded just the one foul while making five interceptions to disrupt Honduras' forays forward.
Jedinak's night in stats
- Minutes played: 90
- Touches: 73
- Duels won: 53.8%
- Aerial duels won: 44.4%
- Interceptions: 5
- Tackles: 1/2
- Clearances: 1
- Blocks: 2
- Total passes: 56
- Accuracy: 73%
- Fouls conceded: 1
It was the fifth time Jedinak clocked five interceptions in a match in the qualification campaign.
Now Australia looks on to Russia in a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance, with Jedinak becoming a common thread in that historic run.
The bearded captain, who can now be considered an icon of the game in Australia, will hope the injury gods are kind as he prepares for a third personal appearance in international football's promised land.Let's