Stewart Downing believes Middlesbrough showed 'flashes' of their true selves in the win over Wigan, following a well-deserved break.
A brace from Jordan Hugill handed the Teessiders victory and, while Downing was full of praise for the striker, he felt the side as a whole were impressive as they returned to winning ways.
Much has been made of Middlesbrough's fixture congestion in recent weeks, with manager Tony Pulis hitting out at the EFL after a sequence which saw his side barely afforded a rest.
But after a week which saw no midweek fixture, Downing believes that the side looked to be getting back to their best during the victory over the Latics - and revealed how mental exhaustion had started to hit the squad.
"I think a lot of the lads felt refreshed," he said, speaking to Middlesbrough's official website.
"Before you know it you're playing a game every two or three days and it's just about recovering and going again.
"It's more mentally than physically, you just have to keep going and going.
"We have been disappointed of late with the way we have played and results, but I think at Stoke we could have won on another day.
"We showed flashes of getting back to ourselves [against Wigan].
"I thought we played some good stuff at times, created chances and could have had three or four.
"They're a decent team, Wigan, they pass and move it well but we snuffed them out really."
The hero on the day was Hugill who, after struggling for form during the early stages of his loan spell from West Ham, is starting to impress.
His brace against Wigan were his first league goals for Boro, and Downing was pleased to see his hard work pay off in front of goal.
He added: "I'm pleased for him. That normally happens doesn't it, you don't score for a while and then you get two.
"But apart from that he works very hard, he's good for the team, and I think he just needed that break.
"He obviously had the one at Stoke where the keeper made a good save and he had one or two early on today.
"He's a Boro lad and I was desperate for him to score - and he's done that today and won us the points."