Stephen Clemence can be forgiven for having mixed emotions when it comes to the business of playing Colchester United.
When Birmingham City played the newly promoted men from Essex on the first day of the season, Blues won 2-1 and he found himself dropped for the next game.
But, when he earned his latest recall for Saturday's 1-1 draw at Layer Road, Clemence was the driving force behind one of Blues' most impressive results of the season. Not only did he score Blues' second-half equaliser, he ran the show in midfield. And they were not empty words when manager Steve Bruce labelled him "the best player on the park".
In the four years he has been at St Andrew's, it was actually the 20th time Clemence has been recalled by Bruce after being left out. And, back in the autumn, when Bruce's job was on the line, Clemence's return to the team at Derby had such a galvanising effect on Blues' upturn in form, the Blues boss all but promised he would never leave him out again.
But a knock picked up by Clemence over the busy Christmas period proved costly when Blues then went and won 5-1 without him at Newcastle in the FA Cup. And, it was not until Saturday, in the wake of a miserable 3-1 home defeat to bottom club Southend United four nights earlier, that Bruce was once again forced to bring him back.
Just as at Pride Park with that deflected late winner, Clemence again responded with a goal, his fourth of the season (already a career best). But the former England Under-21 international knows it's not his goals he's in the team for, but his calm, authoritative passing skills. Now he is fully fit again, he is determined not to be left out.
"I missed ten days' training and both the Newcastle games," said Clemence. "And the manager felt he wanted to keep the same lads who had served him well up at St James' Park.
"I had no problem with that, but it's nice to be back in the thick of things and I don't intend giving up my place easily. I hadn't played since January 1, so it probably did me good having half an hour coming on as sub against Southend on the Tuesday night.
"I admit the result wasn't too clever, but, fitness wise, I felt all the better for it and I was certainly quite happy with the way I played at Colchester, especially in the second half.
"It's a difficult place to come and, when we look back at the end of the season, maybe we might say that this was a great point."
Such was Blues' second-half improvement, sparked by the arrival on the hour of rejuvenated substitute Nicklas Bendtner, Clemence knows that Blues, without a league victory now since Boxing Day, should already be back on the winning trail.
"People might have expected us to beat Southend and then get beat at Colchester, given their great home record," said Clemence. "But we showed good character after Tuesday night and, if we're honest, we should have got all three points.
"Nicklas Bendtner dropped into some good holes for us, we did look good and it's a shame we didn't take a few more of those chances.
"I always felt, once we'd got the equaliser, that it was there for us to win. But we looked good going forward and it was 100 per cent better than Tuesday night when we let ourselves down badly. And the main thing is we've showed we're not going to give up the fight.
"It's a marathon: we're not far over the halfway mark, we've still got a lot of games to go and we've still got to play each other.
"And, when we play those games against Derby and West Brom next month, and then Preston the last day, they now look very important."