George North admits last season was 'very difficult' for both him and Saints - but the Wales wing is now feeling revitalised after taking extra rest prior to this campaign.
North has started the season in superb style, propelling Jim Mallinder's men to four wins from their past four matches.
He did not play in the opening-day defeat to Saracens as he continued to get back to full fitness after picking up a hamstring injury on the British & Irish Lions tour.
He was thrust into action in the Wanderers' win at Sale two days after Saints' 55-24 loss at Twickenham and North has not looked back since.
The 25-year-old has scored three tries in four matches, ending up on the winning side on every occasion.
And he will now look to help table-topping Saints put Gloucester to the sword at Kingsholm on Saturday.
"I'm actually playing alright at the moment!" North said.
"As the team is growing in confidence, the ball is being moved around a bit more and that makes my job a little bit easier.
"For me, it's building nicely.
"Last season was very difficult for me as well as the club so it was a bit of a hard one, but this one is building nicely, not just for me but the other guys coming in.
"Having the likes of Rob Horne and the others arriving, it helps out.
"Having new faces gives you a bit of energy, something different, new conversations and new ideas."
North played 19 times for Saints last season as well as representing Wales before heading off to New Zealand with the Lions.
He suffered a hamstring injury in the tour game against the Hurricanes and was forced to return home early.
But that extended recovery time appears to have done North the world of good.
And he said: "This year more than anything I needed it.
"I spoke to the club, spoke to Jim, the strength and conditioning department and the medical team here and just said it was a bit of a mammoth year last year with the Lions as well.
"I felt like I needed more time, I needed the time I got and I came back in fresh and it was just nice to get back and start pre-season recharged mentally and physically."