Jack Colback admits his loan spell at Nottingham Forest was exactly what he needed after his Newcastle United exile - even if he didn't achieve his aim of promotion.
The 29-year-old was a key member of the Magpies' Championship title-winning campaign of 2016/17, but then Rafa Benitez deemed the midfielder surplus to requirements once United were back in the Premier League.
After six months training with the Under-23s at the Academy, Colback - who is a Geordie and was settled in the North East - accepted a six-month loan move to Forest.
The second-tier side then opted to sign Colback up for another season, with the midfielder making 39 appearances for the City Ground club in 2018/19.
Forest's goal for the season was to achieve promotion, yet they finished ninth in the Championship - eight points shy of the second-tier play-offs.
So, while Colback is pleased on a personal level that he's back playing regularly again following the difficult situation he found himself in at St James' Park, he is disappointed to return to Tyneside without having taken Forest back to the top flight.
“It’s been all right - I’ve played games, which is what I wanted to do after falling out of favour at Newcastle,” Colback told NottinghamshireLive.
“But, aside from me, I came here to get promoted. That was the aim and we’ve missed out on that.
"So I’m not really looking at it thinking, ‘What a season I can look back on and remember’, because it’s just turned out to be another season.
“You have to take responsibility. We’re the ones out on the pitch. We’re the ones playing and making decisions. As players, we have to take responsibility.
“It hurts everyone as much as it will hurt the fans when we come off on a matchday and we’ve not won the game or we’ve not performed; everyone is really hurting - more so because we’ve missed our targets set out.
“It’s one of those things. It’s a cliche but you’ve got to dust yourself down and go again. There’s no point moping around and feeling sorry for yourself.”
Like many players at Newcastle, Colback faces an uncertain future this summer - although the midfielder accepts that he is unlikely to return to the United first-team picture, even if Benitez does not sign a new deal.
Colback has another year left on his Magpies contract, and Newcastle are likely to look to sell the midfielder this summer, or at the very least loan him out for the final 12 months of his deal.
“I have a year left on my contract at Newcastle. When I saw the reports that said I was out of contract, I had to check with my agent that I did have a year left,” Colback said back in March.
“It is not as though I am looking at it and thinking that I will go back to Newcastle and try to get back in the team. I am realistic enough to know that, if the current manager is still there, I am not going to be playing.
“I am not sat here thinking that things might change if he goes - the way I am looking at it is to think that I haven’t played for the club for two years and it is unlikely that I will do again.
“I really enjoyed my time at Newcastle. Getting relegated was hard, because it is my home town club and I have a lot of family and friends up there. That was tough to take.
“In the time I was there, I played a lot of games. It did not end too well. But that happens with football. It is one of those things that is out of the blue.
“But you move on. I had the chance to come here and it was nice to have a full season; I feel as though I have done OK. My confidence has come back a little bit.
“It is tough when you get asked questions, because it is tough to answer them sometimes, because you really don’t know.”