Aberdeen: Dominic Ball says he only showed best form at end of season
Dominic Ball admits he showed Aberdeen fans "nowhere near" his best until the final five games of last season.
Defender Ball is back at Pittodrie on another year-long loan from Rotherham.
The Englishman made 19 appearances last term - nearly half as a substitute - but started each of the post-split fixtures as Aberdeen finished second to Celtic for a fourth consecutive season.
"I was nowhere near where I should have been in terms of fitness, confidence, opportunity," defender Ball said.
"When I did play, I played in midfield game after game and that's when you can start improving, building and developing.
"The players started to work out how I like to play and the manager found what was best for me. I think we saw that towards the end of the season."
Manager Derek McInnes echoed Ball's sentiments and agrees that the player "showed his value and worth" in the latter weeks of the campaign.
The Dons face Burnley on Thursday in the Europa League second qualifying round, followed by opening their Premiership campaign at home to Rangers.
But McInnes' immediate attention is on adding further to his squad, particular since the departure of Adam Rooney to Salford City has left them short in attack.
Ball, though, insists the players are not worried by the fact some of their rivals - Rangers and Hearts in particular - have been much more active in the market.
"We are focusing on ourselves," Ball said. "We have big games coming up and can't afford to be looking elsewhere.
"It is always hard to get to the top but always harder to stay there and four years in a row finishing second has been very good.
"But that has to be the aim again this year and I think everyone in there - players and staff - that is our goal."