Western Australians Jesse Phillips and Stephen Bird showed no ill effects from post- Olympics surgery with a scorching K2 200 metre semi-final win at the national titles in Perth.
Phillips and Bird both decided to go under the knife after finishing sixth at last year's London Olympics, and weren't expecting much at this week's nationals.
"Strength is the factor for both of us," Phillips said.
"We're not as strong as we were at the games, and that's probably showing a bit in the back end of our races. But it's nothing to worry about, we're pretty happy where we're at at the moment."
The Perth kayakers were forced to work hard with K4 pair Tate Smith and Murray Stewart in the next lane.
"It wasn't perfect, but we're happy to put together a full race and blow the cobwebs out," Phillips said.
"It was our fourth race of the day, and it certainly hasn't been easy."
Like the K4 gold medallists, Bird and Phillips have opted out of travelling to Europe for world cup events. Their preference is to stay in Perth and focus on training.
"Both coming back from surgery, we need 2013 to be a year of consolidation," Phillips said.
"We want to slingshot ourselves into a 2016 campaign off the back of a good result at the World Championships."
Considerable challenges await Phillips and Bird in tomorrow's final, and not just from Smith and Stewart. Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame were comfortable winners in their semi-final.
There was a surprise result in the women's K2 semi-finals, with Sunshine Coast youngsters Stacey Higgins and Coco Howcroft upstaging their much more experienced rivals, Hannah Davis and Jo Brigden-Jones.
Fellow Queenslanders Hailey McGinty and Alyce Burnett proved too strong in the second semi-final.