The Scotland international began the campaign in footballing limbo, with former Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio making it clear that he had no future on Wearside.
Bardsley was, however, laid low in pre-season by injury and saw out the summer transfer window in the North East.
Di Canio's exit in September offered him a clean slate, with incoming coach Gus Poyet prepared to offer the full-back a route back into the first team fold.
Bardsley admits to having experienced a mixed bag of emotions in 2013/14, but hopes he will get to experience the highest of highs at Wembley on Sunday.
Ahead of their meeting with Manchester City, the 28-year-old defender told the Sunderland Echo: "It has been quite a time.
"But things have picked up for me and for the club and after a bad start we have a great opportunity to end the season really well.
"I'd love it to end on a high note in both the cup and the league, and that's what I'll be trying to do."
Bardsley, who has seen Sunderland slip back into the Premier League drop zone, added: "It has been a strange time and it is ironic that if I hadn't broken my foot last summer then I probably wouldn't be here.
"But what I'm after now is a great end of the season and we've got some great games coming up to hopefully enjoy.
"We're all buzzing about the cup final and we're all determined to give a really good account of ourselves, to give a performance that everyone can be proud of.
"But beyond that, we're also very much aware of the importance of cementing our place in the Premier League.
"We've come a long way but we're not there yet and now we have to give it one final push to make sure the campaign ends well.
"Everybody just needs to give everything between now and the end of the season."