The former Bruchweg Boy – the lead singer in Mainz's boyband-like brigade with Andre Schürrle on drums and Adam Szalai on guitar, which took the Bundesliga by storm in 2010/11 – Holtby appeared destined for a star-studded career.
That season proved to be merely a one-hit wonder, though, as the trio who celebrated every goal as Mainz finished fifth and qualified for the UEFA Europa League with a boyband-like performance split up at the season's end. Holtby returned to his original record label Schalke, for whom he furthered his solo career and earned a move to Tottenham Hotspur in England's Premier League.
A Fritz Walter gold medallist for his excellence at U19 level, Holtby earned his place as the only German representative on UEFA's Team of the Tournament alongside the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Marco Verratti, David De Gea and Alvaro Morata at the 2013 UEFA European U21 Championship.
Germany and England battled to award the first cap to the son of a German mother and English father, but after making his debut for the country in which he grew up, Holtby only added two further caps, while his spell at Spurs turned sour with just 25 appearances. An equally disappointing loan spell at Fulham followed before Hamburg offered Holtby a lifeline in 2014.
In northern Germany, Holtby still struggled to grasp the olive branch. His latest comeback appeared to have crashed earlier this season when, despite being fit, he did not even make the matchday squad for the clash with VfB Stuttgart in November.
The 27-year-old's career had hit rock bottom.
"It's not a great moment for him," admitted HSV's sporting director Jens Todt. "It can happen that you're left out of the squad and you've just got to fight your way through. Lewis is a total professional and he can deal with it – he's a lad who never hangs his head in training, no matter how the situation is."
There can only be one direction from there and Holtby has taken it. With over 300 Bundesliga appearances under his belt, he has dug deep into all his experience to emerge revitalised under new coach Christian Titz, ready to relaunch his career and save the Bundesliga's dinosaur from extinction.
With three goals in his past four games, helping HSV to a crucial seven points which has slashed the deficit on safety to five points, Holtby is hitting the right chords once again.
Watch: Holtby says it's not over yet
His solo effort against Freiburg on Matchday 31 lacked the boyband celebration, but it could otherwise have come right out of his 2010/11 scrapbook. The agility, close control and – above all – cool finish were there as Holtby almost single-handedly gave an entire region reason to believe.
"Everything's possible," Holtby told bundesliga.com. "My determination and belief is always there. It's not over until it's over. I just take it game by game, and I want to stay in the league with this club. Believe me, I trust in that."
Hamburg and Holtby have done a Houdini before, and while the last surviving founding member of the Bundesliga stares into the abyss, extinction of the last standing dinosaur has yet to be sanctioned.
Holtby is back, just in time to save an endangered species once again.