Paterson made his international debut against Spain in 2007 but the combination of recurring injury problems and an uncertain place in former manager Nigel Worthington's pecking order meant he made a faltering start to life at the highest level.
Indeed, it was not until the arrival of Michael O'Neill in the dugout that Paterson really found his feet.
He scored his first Northern Ireland goal from the penalty spot to secure a 3-3 friendly draw against Finland last August and has started the last four World Cup qualifiers.
The 26-year-old has netted twice in that period, a match-winning header against Russia at Windsor Park and the opening goal in last month's disappointing 3-2 defeat in Luxembourg.
He will be looking to add to that tally against Azerbaijan in Baku on Friday night, having been handed a vote of confidence he has sometimes lacked at club level.
Paterson signed for Huddersfield in the summer but has yet to score, having been played too often on the wing or as a substitute
"You could probably say I've played my rightful position for my country and in other places maybe I haven't," said Paterson.
"I'm comfortable in the set-up and really enjoying my football with Northern Ireland.
"Club things maybe haven't gone to plan due to a number of things that I cannot control, but playing for your country and scoring goals...there's not a bigger stage and there's not a better feeling.
"You could say to me my club career is not going great but at international level I'm bang in form.
"I'm pleased with my performances. If given the nod, I'm confident I can give a good account of myself and cause problems at this level."
The shadow of record goalscorer David Healy looms large over all Northern Ireland forwards, not least because he scored in the home match against Azerbaijan in his last appearance.
Whether or not Paterson can put together the kind of record to rival Healy's 36 goals - he may need to if Northern Ireland are to ever qualify for a major global tournament again - is open to question, but he is clear about his aims.
"The two goals I've scored (this campaign) are gone now. They were great for me but I want to kick on, keep the momentum rolling," he added.
"The two games coming up are my focus. I don't want to rest on my laurels and say 'great, I've scored a couple of goals'. I want more.
"I think I'm putting more of a demand on myself than others are, but I feel it is a requirement of me to score goals."
Northern Ireland have just one injury doubt for the match, with Aberdeen's Niall McGinn struggling with a knock.