THE line of enquiry was both obvious and one which Charlie Adam must have anticipated as he faced the media for the first time as a Scotland player in more than a year.
What has changed in his game to persuade Gordon Strachan to recall him to his squad ahead of next week’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier in Dublin?
Adam’s answer was less predictable than the question. If not quite bristling with indignation, his irritation was clear to see.
“I’m the same player I was three years ago,” insisted the 29-year-old whose remarkable form for Stoke City at the end of the English Premier League season simply made him impossible for Strachan to ignore.
On announcing his squad last week, Strachan gave the assessment that Adam had brought a new level of tactical diligence to his performances.
“Over the last six months he seems to have become more disciplined in his game, which is handy,” said Strachan. “A lack of discipline can cost you and it has cost Scotland many times.”
“The last time we spoke was just before the friendly against Nigeria last May”Charlie Adam
That may or may not have been a reference to Adam’s unhappiest night in a Scotland jersey, when his failure to track a Gareth Bale run contributed to defeat by Wales in a World Cup qualifier in Cardiff in 2012.
But having started just two of Strachan’s 19 games in charge of Scotland so far, it is clear that Adam has much to do to convince the manager he can fit into his plans.
“He (Strachan) probably sees it different from me,” said Adam. “But I’ve been playing the way I’ve been playing all season.
“He probably thinks there are different parts of my game that have improved. I don’t see it that way.
“If I keep playing the way I am playing, if that’s good and that’s what he thinks, and that gets me an opportunity to play for Scotland, great.
“It’s been a long time, so it’s good to be back involved. My form at the end of the season obviously put me into a good position and I’m looking forward to being a part of things.
“I always had faith I’d get back in but I had to be playing. It was obviously going to be difficult during that period I wasn’t playing at Stoke and the lads have been brilliant for Scotland in the Euro campaign so far.
“You’ve just got to be playing games and when you get on a run of scoring goals and playing well you get noticed.”
Adam’s run of five goals in Stoke’s last eight games of the campaign was sparked by his extraordinary long-range strike against champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the start of April.
“That got me the recognition and a bit of media attention,” he added. “I wouldn’t say that goal has got me back into the national team. But, listen, it just gives you the profile.
“But the main thing is Stoke were playing well and I was part of that team who played well. I played in the last ten or 12 games and I must have played well enough, when he (Strachan) was watching, to get back in.
“I hadn’t really spoken to him during the period I was out of the squad. The last time we spoke was just before the friendly against Nigeria in May last year when he phoned me up to tell me I wasn’t included.
“He didn’t need to call me, because at the end of the day the most important thing for him is to focus on the lads who are involved.
“He just explained he wanted to bring in new players to try in that game and that I was one of the experienced ones he was leaving out. I totally respect his decision but of course I wanted to be part of it.
“I felt before there were players who were playing for the international team who weren’t playing at club level and when it came to my opportunity it never happened like that. That’s what happens – you get on with it and I’ve managed to turn it around and it’s good to be back.
“You can only keep playing as well as you can for your club and that’s what gets you in the international scene. It’s important to keep your head down and try and play as well as you can and it’s nice to be back involved and be part of it.
“I’ve only had one training session back with the squad and the intensity is still there. You can see the lads are confident, they’ve been playing well and scored a few goals. They’ve had some big results so it’s a good set-up to come into.
“It’s not as if the team have been struggling and I’m coming into a squad where the confidence is low.
“Listen, it’s going to be hard for me to get into the team because the lads in my position – Scott Brown, Darren Fletcher, James Morrison, James McArthur and Shaun Maloney – have all done brilliantly.
“They are ahead of me because they’ve done well and the national team have been winning. I’ve just got to come and show in training that I’m good enough to get back in the side.
“If an opportunity comes this time, great. If not, I go back to get ready for pre-season and hopefully try to get in for the next internationals.
“I want to be part of this. Come next summer when we have qualified for Euro 2016, it would be hard sitting on the couch watching the games.”
Adam could face three of his Stoke City team-mates – Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters – in Dublin if he makes it into Strachan’s side to face the Irish.
“We have spoken about that among ourselves over the past few weeks and it will be interesting to see how it goes,” he smiled.
“But club football goes out the window next week. I will want to win for Scotland and they will be wanting to win for Ireland.
“If we can get something out of the game that will be important. As long as we don’t lose it then that will keep us in a good position.
“Scotland’s results in the last couple of seasons under the manager have proven that we are a good team and have good players.
“Ireland have good players as well but Martin O’Neill and their lads will be worried about what we have because we played really well at Celtic Park and caused them a few problems. We have to just worry about ourselves and we will be going there to try to win.”