But De Luca has been back and firing on all cylinders this season, starting five RaboDirect PRO12 games so far as Edinburgh sit ninth in the table.
And his form at Murrayfield has earned the centre a recall into the Scotland squad, Scott Johnson handing him the No.13 shirt for the visit of Japan this Saturday.
And after fearing he would never be able to play for Scotland again, De Luca is hell-bent on making the most of his latest opportunity.
"I'm buzzing to be back having been on the sidelines for a year. I'm delighted to be back in and now I plan to show that," De Luca told the Glasgow Evening Times.
"I can't lie, it was very tough being out injured. I found it difficult sitting in the stands watching. Every player just wants to play.
"Luckily things are going my way now and I can see one thing instead of two. Now I need to make the most of being back fit and healthy.
"There's a different feeling about the place. The training is different, the environment is different. It's now a really good place to be and I'm enjoying it."