Ashley Cole has a second pre-season with Jose Mourinho to look forward to this summer, but admits the work becomes more daunting the closer it gets.
The 32-year-old signed on transfer deadline day in 2006, and worked with Mourinho in America the following summer. This year he will experience two weeks in Asia, as he did in 2008 and 2011, before heading stateside ahead of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.
'Pre-season is always difficult,' says Cole. 'I've spoken about it before, how hard it can be, when it's that bit hotter than at home.
'I've done a lot of pre-seasons now and they never get easier. Each year you forget what you put yourself through but you need to do it - there are no short cuts.'
There are however positives to working with Mourinho, who introduces the use of a football as the focal point of fitness sessions, at this time of year. The belief is that it distracts players from the distances they cover in preparation for competition, allowing them to focus on their sport, building football-specific fitness.
'When I started as a kid it was all running but these days there is pretty much always a ball involved, which makes it more interesting and you can work on your sharpness as well as building a base level of fitness after your holidays,' comments Cole, who is currently enjoying a well-earned rest after finishing his international commitments with England in Brazil earlier this month.
'I think a lot of us needed the break after a tough season,' he says, looking back on a year that saw Chelsea participate in eight competitions, winning the Europa League and crucially securing Champions League football for the campaign ahead.
'It was the longest season the club had ever had, and we all played a lot of games,' Cole continues. 'In the end I think we can be proud of what we achieved though, with picking up a European trophy and making sure we qualified for the Champions League. With the right preparation this time around I am sure we will be able to do even better.'
- Tickets for our pre-season matches inBangkok on 17 July, Kuala Lumpur on 21 July and Jakarta on 25 July are now on sale. Click on the city names for details