The 26-year-old scored 12 times and laid on as many assists last season, but has spent the first few weeks of 2014/15 on the sidelines nursing a pelvic complaint.
"It was great to be involved again," Kruse enthused after making his comeback in a low-key friendly defeat to Bundesliga 2 side VfL Bochum on Saturday. "For me, the main thing is to have come through 90 minutes unscathed, even though I didn't have much left in the tank for the final ten."
Looking back, Gladbach's foregoing campaign panned out in similar fashion. The Foals enjoyed their best start to a Bundesliga season since 1976, before steadily running out of puff after the winter break, falling from third, to eighth and eventually settling on their final posting in sixth.
Room for improvement
"We were ten times better last season," admitted Gladbach head coach Lucien Favre after the Foals picked up their first point of the season at Kruse's former haunt SC Freiburg on Matchday 2. "We've got to work a lot harder. The movement in attack isn't where it should be."
Enter Herr Kruse, stage right. "I've got a week to work on the ten minutes that were lacking [against Bochum]," he explained. "We needn't read anything into the result. We trained hard beforehand. At the moment, I'm at 90 per cent, but hopefully I'll be able to play my part against Schalke [on Matchday 3]."
Competition for places
That said, Kruse doesn't expect to waltz back into the starting fold off the bat. Favre has added a number of new faces to his side these past few months, while the performances of Branimir Hrgota, who netted a second-leg hat-trick as Gladbach crushed FK Sarajevo to reach the UEFA Europa League group stages, are becoming pretty hard to ignore.
"I've said before that we've never had so many first-team players," six-time Germany international Kruse told regional paper Rheinische Post. "But I want to be playing. I'm fit and have been doing well in friendlies, so we'll have to see how the next two weeks pan out. Obviously I have to train well, but I think I've proved my worth. The coach knows what I'm about."