Dawid Malan is feeling refreshed and believes Middlesex can overhaul Yorkshire, especially given that they've beaten them at Lord's on their last two visits.
The White Rose county clinched the County Championship at the Home of Cricket last year, even though they were beaten in the game, and were the dominant force in the game.
But Malan, who suffered from burnout, in pre-season after spending the winter with England Lions believes his side can catch them up.
He said: “They've been a fantastic team over the last few years. We've been steadily improving and our results have shown that.
“We've built a squad of players that can hopefully push them this year. We've beaten them twice in the last two years - I think we're the only team that's done that - so there's no reason why we can't catch them, if we play to our ability and everything clicks, and players stay fit and find form at the right time.
Malan was one of the standout performers for Middlesex last season and earned a call-up to England Lions over the winter, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
He added: “I haven't got a bad word to say about it. I enjoyed every single day and minute that I had there.
“To be able to work with Andy Flower and Graham Thorpe and to be able to feed off them, hopefully that will put my game in good stead.”
But the tour came at at cost as he needed an extended break at the start of pre-season training in South Africa.
He explained: “I got tired and I needed a break. Four months non-stop in a high-intensity environment, with only a two-week break over Christmas, was quite tough, especially being in a different country and living in a hotel for four months.
“You get mentally tired, you get physically tired. I know where Morgy (Eoin Morgan) was coming from last season – he was burned out, you could just see it by looking at him.
“I don’t blame him for taking a step back. He’s come back playing and he’s improved it, so hopefully that happens for me as well.”
He went on: “I had a week holiday in Dubai, and then flew out to South Africa and joined the boys for pre-season.
“I got back into the hotel and I just didn’t enjoy it. I was there for two days. I went to Angus and said ‘I just need to get away’. And he straight away said ‘go’.
“Fortunately for me my parents still live in South Africa so I just went and stayed with them for two weeks.
“I flew back (to the UK) with the boys and took another week off, so against Northampton was the first time I’d picked up a bat since 24 February.
“Everything’s feeling fine. The rhythm’s coming and I’m enjoying having time in the nets and hitting balls, which is what I absolutely love.
“It was nice being around my parents and not having to impress people and just be yourself – if you want to be grumpy for two days, you can be grumpy and if you want to be happy for two days, you can be happy.
“The World Cup was on, I loved watching that. I was just happy to sit down and not actually see a cricket bat or a cricket ball, it sort of got to that stage.
“I think I struggled a bit in the Pakistan Super League, towards the end, and I just didn’t feel comfortable and I needed a bit of a break.
“Do I regret playing in that? Definitely not. I learned an awful lot. I learned where my game is, I learned what I need to do to improve watching the best players in the world.
“Hopefully that’s going to put me in good stead this year when I work out my new gameplans for Twenty20 cricket and how it fits into what the team needs.”
Malan, 28, has been playing cricket all year round for 10 years was surprised to be burnt out but attributed it to the increase in intensity in the England setup.
He revealed: “I’ve never had that in my life before. I’ve played 12 months of the year pretty much every year since I was 18.
“But I think just being in a higher-intensity environment for four months, living in a hotel with absolutely no break, and people there wanting to speak to you – it’s just non-stop all the time.
“It gives you a glimpse into what international cricket’s about and what these guys actually go through, being away from home for two months at a time without seeing their loved ones and their friends, it’s obviously tough on them, from that point of view.
“I was a bit surprised, but you take a bit of a break and then you get straight back to it.”