The question is as it was, and remains: can Serena Williams be beaten?
The scene this time is the WTA Championships in Istanbul, to end a season that Williams has dominated like few before it.
The numbers are compelling: a match record of 73-4, including two of the four grand slams, among a personal-best 10 titles; so, too, is the momentum the world No.1 carries to the close of a year she rates among her best, and explains as the product of a slight change in attitude and approach.
''Every tournament I play, I play to win,'' said the 17-time major champion, explaining her greater commitment to non-slam tournaments before her opening round-robin match against eighth seed Angelique Kerber on Tuesday night.
''Not that I didn't do that before, but it was just different. [I'm] just at a different place in my life, and more than anything I enjoy playing tennis. I love being out there.
''Right now I can't imagine my life without a tennis racquet in my hand and playing the next event. I think maybe that makes a difference.''
It was not always that way, and Williams' assertion at Sunday's draw ceremony that ''I never want to retire'', was exactly what the sport's powerbrokers longed to hear.
''We are in a moment of greatness with Serena Williams, and it's not just me saying it. The greats are saying it,'' said WTA chief executive Stacey Allaster, referencing the likes of Chris Evert and Billie Jean King. ''Bless her that she stays healthy. She's in her moment.''
For Allaster, too, the 32-year-old's emotional reclamation of the No.1 ranking in February was the highlight of a remarkable 2013 for a player who has battled injury, health and personal issues at times, but believes those setbacks ultimately strengthened her character and resolve, and admits she thought she would be long gone from the sport by now.
Despite arriving off three consecutive losses, world No.2 Victoria Azarenka has become Williams' greatest threat, especially on hardcourts, their growing rivalry most recently played out in an epic US Open final.
''I think it's been becoming more and more interesting, and we had a lot of very good matches, very good battles, and it's great,'' Azarenka said. ''I'm honoured to be a part of that. That's what takes me every time to work harder to the next level.''
The strongest challenger to the Belarussian in her group appears to be the second-oldest player in the eight-woman field - 31-year-old Li Na, who also rates this as her most consistent season, despite winning just one title and losing the dramatic Australian Open final to Azarenka in three sets.
''I know they always ask me about [being the] second old woman on the tour, and I would like to say age is nothing. Age gave me a lot experience on the court. I'm still happy the way I am playing now,'' said Li, who will play her opening round-robin match on Wednesday.
Linda Pearce is a guest of the WTA Championships Istanbul