I haven't been in the pool regularly for a few years. In fact this is my first swim of 2013... (for those keeping track, 2013 ends Tuesday!)
Got back in today with a slow easy swim, focusing primarily on technique. It came back quickly, and I felt really quite good. Found my balance and rotation quite nicely.
Before I went, I read this passage from Total Immersion (page 55 of the edition I have, "This Fireside Edition 2004"):
Face the wall and reach up with, say, your right hand, sliding it as far up as you can. Now rotate and lift your elbow slightly off the surface. You'll feel a stretch in the muscles surrounding your armpit. Turn your left hip and shoulder about 45 degrees away from the wall and you'll feel tension building in the powerful latissimus muscle (in your back, below your armpit) - not on the weak should muscles.This really clicked for me... trying it got my head around one thing in particular - rotation should come before the stroke starts. I seem to rely on my stroke to rotate me, which is wrong wrong wrong... so just that little pause where my rotation started before the stroke really helped me mentally.
Also I can visualize this building up some elastic power that will snap when the stroke starts and power me forward. It'll take awhile to do this habitually, but this year my sole focus will be technique.