There was a point to prove from a determined Brett Pitman, according to Pompey’s manager.
Now Kenny Jackett is seeking a consistent response from the newly-honed number 10 in the scrap for promotion.
Pitman marked his maiden start in 10 matches with a man-of-the-match performance in the 3-2 success at Walsall.
For the 31-year-old, it ended a period of first-team frustration which also saw him omitted from Blues squads for five different fixtures.
The skipper opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Nathan Thompson has been inexplicably pushed over.
Then, on 68 minutes, his tackle on the halfway line and intelligent pass released Jamal Lowe to tee up Viv Solomon-Otabor for the third goal.
An impressive all-round display from Pitman, who operated in a deeper attacking role behind lone striker Omar Bogle.
Jackett said: ‘I certainly hope he had a point to prove – and he has bounced back well.
‘It’s a slightly different role and hopefully the options in the number nine position can complement him.
‘There’s obviously a cycle to it and hopefully Brett’s on an upward curve now. That will be great if that's the case – we can get him assisting, working hard for the team and then scoring goals.
‘I felt he played well for the reserve side at Swindon last week, while it was also a good performance when he came on against Charlton, so I wanted to follow them up.
‘This was the right time to put him there. We have some mobility and some pace in the nine (Bogle), so if Brett plays 10 he can give us a complement.
‘I wanted to try that pairing – and both were available against Walsall.
‘Brett’s trained hard, played in a slightly deeper role and it will be interesting just to see how that develops.’
It was the return of Bogle from a hamstring injury which presented Pitman with his opportunity.
The loanee’s extra mobility and pace earned him selection ahead of Oli Hawkins up front.
Jackett added: ‘I thought Brett did well. It's something we have looked at in the last two weeks and talked about.
‘If you can get some pace in that front three then he can drop deep. Hopefully he can be an effective attacking option for us.’