But the off-spinner, whose absence was so keenly felt as England clung on for a 0-0 draw in the three-Test series in New Zealand, remains confident he will be bowling at full capacity well before the start of the Ashes in July.
Swann is aiming to return in Nottinghamshire's County Championship fixture against Durham that starts on 29 April, more than a fortnight before Lord's stages the first of two Tests against New Zealand. But the 34-year-old admits that may be optimistic – and as Notts do not have another four-day game until the Lord's Test has started, the second match at Headingley the following week, or even the ICC Champions Trophy in June, may be more realistic dates for his international comeback.
"By the end of April, I'd hope to be bowling competitively," he said. "I don't know whether that's optimistic or not, but that's how my mind works – I want to be back as soon as I can because I'm bored stupid already.
"After my last elbow operation [in 2009, the last Ashes summer], I was back playing first-class cricket about four weeks later [and went on to play in each of England's seven Tests – two against West Indies, and five against Australia]. We've not got a game that soon this time, and I don't think I'd risk that, with this being such a big year.
"But this operation was a lot more straightforward, just correcting little things that have gone wrong since then, and I've got every confidence in the surgeon, so I've not been worried about anything long-term because I know I'll be fine.
"In an ideal world, I'd be fit and proving to the coach and captain that I'm bowling well enough and I'm strong enough to get through a Test match. That's my aim." But after the late disruption he caused to England's plans in New Zealand, when the decision to send him for further surgery in Minnesota was taken shortly before the first Test in Dunedin, he conceded: "I've got to convince Alastair Cook and Andy Flower that I'm fully fit, and not just pulling wool over their eyes. If I start back and there's any pain whatsoever, I'm sure I'll want to play it fairly safe.
"I haven't even thought about turning my arm over yet, so it would be a bit optimistic to set a date. The next couple of weeks are solely fitness and getting my base levels back up to where they should be, and then I'll start bowling again. I think I could bowl now, but I'd probably put myself back to square one. But I feel great at the minute. I'll be badgering the physios and coaches here at Notts to let me bowl as soon as possible, but they're the ones with qualifications to tell me when and where I can."
Swann followed much of the New Zealand series from his West Bridgford attic in the early hours of the morning with his elbow strapped to a continuous motion machine used to accelerate his recovery. "I've still got to wake myself up every couple of hours to do 50 minutes on this machine," he added. "It was quite handy while the Test match was on because I could watch that. But now it's finished, it's very boring."
He especially enjoyed the dramatic climax at Eden Park early on Tuesday. "That was brilliant wasn't it? Talk about comedy last 20 minutes of the game. Something stupid was always going to happen with Monty, but Broady's was way funnier. You could see his mind trying to signal for the review with the bat sticking in his neck. I had tears in my eyes – five in the morning, I was high as a kite on the painkillers, when I woke up in the morning I had to watch it again on Sky Sports News to make sure it had actually happened."
Even Swann, who joked that he "would have made 80-odd not out on a pitch as flat as that", was not prepared to go along with the theory that Cook and England were lost in New Zealand without his off-field ebullience and on-field advice.
"I'm the greatest international captain who will never be," he smiled. "Sometimes you become a far greater player than you actually are by not playing in the game. The fact that England didn't win the series, everyone then looks around for reasons. I'd always take that with a pinch of salt when people say it's because of Graeme Swann's cricket brain. It'd be nice if it was, but I'm sure it's been overhyped."
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image: © Steve Hodgson