The come-from-behind win against Adelaide would certainly have put a smile on Nathan Buckley's face on Friday night, but the return of Dayne Beams would have had him positively beaming.

The importance of Beams' long-awaited return from a quadriceps injury to the Pies' flag chances can't be overstated.

A fully fit Beams will be a key factor as the Pies look to build momentum into the finals, or even snare a top-four berth, and he showed exactly what the side had been missing during his long injury layoff with 25 possessions in the hard-fought, 27-point win against the Crows at the MCG.

The 23-year-old suffered the frustrating quad injury on the eve of the home-and-away season, but was initially thought set to miss two to four weeks.

But he re-injured the muscle at training in the lead-in to the round-four clash against Richmond and was put in cotton wool until finally proving his fitness with a best-on-ground, 26-disposal effort in the VFL last week.

Beams started on the bench - he would do so at the start of every term - and came on to the cheers of Collingwood fans at the four-minute mark, but looked understandably rusty early in his first AFL game of the season.

He didn't get his first touch until the 13th minute, but then he was away. The reigning Copeland Trophy winner displayed his trademark run and carry and was soon trading handballs with running teammates and providing the linking run that has been missing as Buckley's side struggled to recapture its early season form.

He had seven touches for the first quarter and even showed his delight at being back among the cut and thrust of the contest by being a willing participant in a bit of argy bargy after the first-quarter siren.

As the Pies worked into the game, so did Beams who looked increasingly assured with the ball in hand.

His class on his return to the fray was underscored by his disposal efficiency of 84 per cent, while he also had four clearances and laid four tackles.