As Mo Farah stood on the start line for the 10,000m final, there was a veneer of vulnerability.
Twenty five laps later, it was not quite a return to Mr Invincible but the potential frailty was gone, that veneer lifted as fears he might not be in gold-winning condition dissipated with a clenched fist and punch into the Zurich night sky in celebration.
Nothing quite says "I'm back" like a gold medal.... or two! The only remnants of his recent health scare are the four stitches in his left ear but the Londoner admitted that Tuesday's race was the most vulnerable he could remember feeling in his career.
"If I said I'm invincible, I'd be lying," he said. "I'm just a human being the same as the rest of you and sometimes you doubt yourself when things are not going so well. But you've got to get over it and there are times when I'm struggling and going through different emotions only my family, my wife, people who are really close to you know about.
"When I pulled out of the Commonwealth Games, I was like, am I going to be alright for the Europeans? You start to ask yourself questions. Am I ready? And then sometimes physically you might be ready but mentally you might not be."
A second gold in today's 5,000m would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago but it remains on. Normally, such a double against more modest European counterparts, would be deemed a poor relation to more prestigious doubles at Olympic and world level.
But such has been the pendulum swing in his preparations from his collapse at the New York City Half-Marathon to his faltering London Marathon display and the health scare that denied him the chance to compete in Glasgow, the potential glory is that much greater.
"It would mean a lot… it would be awesome if I can do the double here," he said. "If I can run a good race, similar to what I've run in previous years, or slightly less, then you'd know 'yes, you are on the right track'."
His quest for double top has been aided by the decision of the organisers to scrap the heats in favour of a one-off race.
Back on the track, Farah is at his most comfortable and happiest; Mo the marathon man has been and gone. The 26.2-mile experiment effectively failed in that he did not achieve his minimum goal of a British record and he admits it also potentially derailed the rest of his 2014 season, his hospitalisation last month a potential knock-on effect from cramming in too much training in too short a window of time.
It resulted in him missing the Commonwealth Games – the one gold missing from the set – a decision he admitted had been taken by his coach, Alberto Salazar. "He said: 'Mo, you're not doing it'."
"I loved the marathon in terms of the support, the crowd, just running around the streets of London I really enjoyed that," he said.
"I was a little bit disappointed. I honestly thought with the training and everything I'd done I could have run faster."
On track, fast times look to be beyond Farah tonight. His British record of 12min 53.11sec, set in 2011, is one for another day. This race is about making his presence felt. "It would be good to get out there and give it," said Farah, a look of determination on his face, "and show the guys, all my opposition, everyone who knows I've been ill, that I'm back."Reuse content