TOM Liberatore has given the strongest sign yet he could be returning to his brilliant best with a starring performance in the Western Bulldogs' match simulation session at Whitten Oval on Saturday morning.
In hot and blustery conditions, the 25-year-old started with a flurry of possessions in the opening period, with his renowned hands in close complemented by attacking run and carry.
The 2014 club best and fairest continued to find the footy and goal throughout the two-hour session, giving the sparse crowd of Bulldog faithful hope his indifferent form of 2017 is behind him.
Midfield counterpart Jack Macrae said he was delighted to see Liberatore back in fine form.
"'Libba" has been amazing all pre-season, he's such a weapon when he's hard at the footy, and we all know how capable he is when he's at his best" Macrae said.
"He's so good inside, and you don't want to nit-pick too much at him, but when (he adds spread from the contest), he going to be a pretty special player.
"We're really looking forward to seeing the best of 'Libba' this season."
Jason Johannisen could be set for more time forward this season, with the Norm Smith medallist kicking three goals and several points in an eye-catching performance.
Superstar midfielder Marcus Bontempelli cruised around in characteristic fashion, collecting plenty of the ball and finishing with two classy goals.
With Dale Morris to be sidelined with a knee injury for an indefinite period, draftee Aaron Naughton looks ready to debut after competing well against more seasoned teammates.
Key defender Marcus Adams looked solid in his return from two serious foot injuries in the past two seasons, moving well and setting up several forays forward with booming kicks.
Young key forwards Tom Boyd and Josh Schache were quiet in attack in difficult conditions for big men but were competitive when thrown into the ruck.
Toby McLean looks set for midfield time in 2018, with the former forward impressing with his energy around the contest and ball use when on the spread.
Mitch Honeychurch was carried from the field with a knee complaint, but after being assessed by medical staff, the defensive playmaker was cleared of injury.
Tory Dickson, Mitch Wallis, Jackson Trengove, Tom Campbell and Clay Smith were all managed and didn't take part in the hit-out but will be considered for next weekend's JLT Community Series match against Hawthorn in Ballarat.
Third-year key defender Kieran Collins and rookie recruit Billy Gowers also sat out the session.