Steve Smith first appeared on the international scene as a baby-faced young man who looked like he still had some puppy fat to burn off — but he's developing a reputation as one of the hardest Australian cricketers of the 21st century.
If we needed a reminder of that in these post-sandpaper days, Smith gave us one. His brilliant 144 on day one of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston was not nearly as much about technique, timing and footwork as it was about sheer bloody-mindedness not to let England get the better of him.
It was a sentiment that extended beyond his 11 opponents on the field and into the crowd. Some turned up to the rowdiest ground in England wearing masks made in the image of Smith crying at his press conference after returning home from South Africa last year.
Others brandished squares of sandpaper but the majority simply booed. They booed when Smith walked out to the middle, they booed when an LBW decision against him was overturned, they booed when he reached 50 and they booed when he made it to 100.
But all along Smith kept batting. And batting. And batting.
In commentary Shane Warne said he thought David Warner and Cameron Bancroft had the tough exteriors capable of dealing with the savage reception but was less certain about Smith.
"I've just got a feeling knowing Steve Smith," Warne said. "He's just a nice guy. He's a little sensitive I reckon.
"He'll have a bit of a smile and put on a brave face, but underneath it (the booing) might just get to him a little."
Warne's not the only person to voice those concerns but he needn't have worried. The harsh crowd treatment was, as Smith put it during the World Cup, "white noise". He wasn't going to let a few punters throw him off his game.
But for all of Smith's mental toughness there were times in the cricket wilderness when he didn't know if he'd ever play again. The man so obsessed with cricket he shadow bats in the shower, if you believe coach Justin Langer, and hits more balls than anyone else because the thought of putting down his bat is too torturous to entertain, fell out of love with the sport he's adored his entire life.
"There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn't know if I was ever going to play cricket again," an emotional Smith told reporters after play.
"I lost a bit of love for it at one point, particularly when I had my elbow operation and it was really bizarre that it was the day I got my brace off my elbow that I found a love for it again.
"It was like a trigger that just said, 'Right, I'm ready to go again. I want to play and I want to go out and play for Australia' and I guess make people proud and just do what I love doing.
"I've never had those feelings (of doubt) ever before. I didn't have a great love for the game and it was there for a little while and fortunately that love's come back and I'm really grateful to be in this position playing for Australia again and doing what I love."
That love has returned even as Smith cops taunts from unforgiving British crowds that will last for the remainder of the northern hemisphere summer.
While much of the treatment has fallen under the banner of targeting a pantomime villain, it felt wrong when the booing started up again as Smith left the field after being dismissed. He should have been soaking up nothing but applause but instead some sections of the crowd — particularly those in the Hollies Stand encouraged by a few libations throughout the day — made it their mission to continue the boo-a-thon.
Still, it doesn't make a difference to Smith. "It doesn't bother me to be perfectly honest. I know that I've got the support of the guys in the (dressing) room and that's all that really matters," he said. "They (teammates) went berserk on the balcony when I got to 100 and just looking up at them really sent shivers down my spine.
"It's been a long time coming getting another Test hundred and it was a huge moment and I'm lost for words, I don't really know what to say."
And he did have one diehard fan waiting in the stands to congratulate him at the end of the day — wife Dani.
Smith's century on Friday morning was his 24th in Tests and first since December 2017 — which also came against the old enemy.
He had Warne changing his tune. "So happy for Smithy as he showed courage, skill and determination," Warne tweeted. "Just awesome."
The only question remaining is whether Smith will regain the captaincy. "Tim's done a magnificent job over the last 18 months or whatever it is," he said.
"I'm obviously an experienced player now. You want your experienced players to stand up when it's difficult and show the way."