Test discard Peter Handscomb says the pain of his omission for Australia's tour of the UAE hit him hard, but he admits he simply hadn't scored enough runs to justify his retention in the squad.
Since making an unbeaten century for Victoria in February, Handscomb has been dismissed for a single-figure score nine times from 11 innings, leading selectors to opt for uncapped pair Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne for the series against Pakistan.
The Victorian had hoped his solid record in Asian Tests, including gutsy scores of 72no and 82 on the subcontinent last year, would work in his favour given the Aussies will be short of experienced batsmen following the suspension of star duo Steve Smith and David Warner.
But it wasn't to be and Handscomb says the message from selectors was loud and clear.
"It's the same old - you've got make runs to be playing for Australia and I haven't been putting numbers on the board that's needed to represent this country," he told cricket.com.au.
"It's obviously tough, getting dropped at any stage hurts and it's happened a couple of times over the last few months for myself. It's not something I'm trying to make a habit of. It's always pretty tough news.
"I was backing myself to score runs in the subcontinent. I had a tough tour (this month) with Australia A in India, but I know I can do it and I've done it before both in India and Bangladesh.
"I was hoping to get the chance in the UAE, but unfortunately it didn't come through."
Handscomb has spent the winter working closely with former Test opener Chris Rogers on his unique batting technique, which had been questioned by the likes of Ricky Ponting during a fruitless Ashes campaign last summer.
He says any technique changes, however minor, can be a case of "one step backwards to take two steps forward", which may have contributed to his disappointing recent run of form.
The 27-year-old says he was stung by criticism last season, but he remains steadfast in his belief that his unorthodox batting style - which has yielded 13 first-class hundreds, including two in Tests - is the way to succeed at the highest level.
"It hurt a little bit, especially (given) 12 months earlier I was making runs with the exact same technique and there weren't any issues then," he says of the scrutiny around his technique last year.
"It was a bit of a shame to have all these comments come out saying it was my technique that was the problem. Maybe it was a contributing factor, but I just wasn't putting runs on the board.
"I've got to make sure I keep my strengths going; I can tinker with a couple of things, but (don't) go away too far from what I know.
"I feel good in the nets, I just need to convert it out in the middle. It's more mental than anything. I know my game is good enough, I've just got to back myself and stick to my strengths."
Handscomb was dismissed without scoring in Victoria's JLT One-Day Cup opener on Sunday and will be looking to break his form drought in their match against Tasmania on Wednesday.