England's finest player at Euro 2020 was exiled from the Premier League champions' starting XI in the early stages of the 2021/22 campaign and a January exit was beginning to look likely.
But manager Pep Guardiola has brought him back into the fold in recent weeks and Sterling has certainly made the most of his opportunities.
Sterling's successful penalty was also his 100th goal in Premier League action, a fine achievement from a magnificent footballer.
The attitude he's shown this season to keep plugging away and doing the hard yards in training while out of the team has to be applauded in the same manner as well.
Guardiola himself is certainly well aware of the elite mentality that Sterling has shown and the City boss used Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton's famous duel in Abu Dhabi to sum up his player's journey in recent weeks.
Guardiola uses Verstappen vs Hamilton to sum up Sterling's form
Guardiola said, per Manchester Evening News: "In this competition, you saw in the Formula 1, you can do everything; [Max] Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were incredible champions, but sometimes the success doesn’t depend on you. Something decides if there is a winner and you don’t win but both are champions.
"The players have to fight like Verstappen has done and Lewis Hamilton has done until to the end. But sometimes even with that doing perfectly, doing incredibly well, there is something you cannot control that decides you are the winner and you are not the winner.
"This is an example I took from Sunday is always to fight and how nice it was. In the end a law or a VAR or a bad decision and many things can happen and you don’t win. What you have to do is like Raheem has done in the last games or these incredible two athletes from Formula 1 have done. This is the lesson we have to learn. They never give up and never say I am not going to try but sometimes doing perfectly something happens that the athletes cannot control and you don’t win."
Well said, Pep.
To succeed at the highest level of any sport, you have to fight as hard as physically possible, even if you're not always rewarded for your efforts.
Sterling is now riding a positive wave thanks to his commitment to the cause earlier in the season and it's why he remains one of the very best footballers on the planet.