STEELE Sidebottom admits he has endured the odd restless night lamenting his "bad" performance in Collingwood's Grand Final loss to West Coast.
But the Magpies vice-captain isn't haunted by the experience, remaining confident he will reproduce his best this season.
Sidebottom won the Gary Ayres Medal last year as the best player in the finals, polling coaches' votes in the Pies' first three finals before being uncharacteristically quiet in the decider.
In the big one, Sidebottom simply wasn't allowed the space that enabled him to amass a game-high 41 possessions in a best afield effort in the preliminary final win over Richmond, with Eagles stopper Mark Hutchings restricting him to just 14 possessions – his lowest tally in more than five years.
It was a rare blemish in an otherwise sensational season for Sidebottom, who finished runner-up in the Brownlow Medal, earned his first All Australian selection and won his second successive Pies' best and fairest, sharing the award last year with ruckman Brodie Grundy.
It was also his first underwhelming effort in a Grand Final, given he'd previously produced strong showings in the 2010 drawn Grand Final and replay win over St Kilda, along with the 2011 loss to Geelong.
"I'm a pretty competitive guy and whenever I'm training or playing I really want to beat whoever I'm playing on, but as much as you want to play well in every game, unfortunately it doesn't always work out like that," Sidebottom told AFL.com.au.
"Sometimes it's your day, sometimes you get beaten.
"The Grand Final wasn't my best game but it's not the end of me, that's for sure. I'm confident in my ability no matter who I play against, and I'm confident that even if I'm not playing my best footy that I'll still be competitive.
"It's obviously disappointing because Grand Finals are the games you most want to play well in, but I'll be fine. I'll just continue to keep things simple, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there and playing some good footy."
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
It would be easy to assume that thoughts of redemption would have driven Sidebottom all pre-season. This is not exactly the case.
The loss has naturally left its mark, and the 28-year-old certainly plans to lift his game to new heights, but that would have been his aim regardless of what transpired last September.
It's this kind of mature, balanced approach that has helped propel the 211-gamer to elite status.
"Every time I turn up to pre-season I'm looking to get better. I'm not looking to get better now just because I had a bad Grand Final. I want to get better because I want to help the team be successful, so this pre-season hasn't really been any different for me," he said.
Sure, I've had some times where I've been lying in bed thinking about it – obviously I'd love to change it – but it's not the reason I want to get better this pre-season.
WHO MAKES FINALS? Do the 2019 Ladder Predictor
Sidebottom could scarcely have prepared himself better for this season, and he performed accordingly in the pre-season games. The 2010 premiership player is primed.
He had an extra light session on Monday, completing some running before leaving the track early, but plans to do a full session on Wednesday ahead of the Magpies' season opener against Geelong at the MCG on Friday.
Sidebottom suspects his role, and that of his fellow stars in Collingwood's super midfield, to broaden this year following the return of his close mate Dayne Beams from Brisbane.
He expects to spend considerable time on a wing and could also spend more time forward.
"We just can't fit everyone in there at the same time, which is a good problem for us to have as a team. Hopefully it'll make us harder to beat," Sidebottom said.