Very interesting first post. There is few elements she cannot bring back. When you look back at 2004 Sharapova, she was a bit smaller and it helped her a lot moving around the court. Now, even if her movement improved A LOT, technically wise, she cannot be as speedy as she was back then. Again, it did not prevent her from having a tremendous 2006 season, for instance. That's the first point.
Secondly, I think that because of the shoulder injury, she will never be as powerful as she used to be. Overall, her game has slow down raw strength wise and she cannot help it. She had to adapt and come up with a game including more security and more topspin. If you take the example of the forehand, it was much more effective in her first years and the helicopter forehand you are talking about was a huge weapon. But, at the same time, watching it now, makes me feel that every time she used to hit it, she was killing her shoulder. The backhand, has slightly improved to me; though.
Her serve, I think, needs a new motion because even if it became a strength in the past two years, it can still be worked on. Going back to the motion she had during the AO 2008, would help her take the ball higher and with her height, hit it harder without damaging her shoulder that much.
To me, Maria should have worked on tactics rather than technique or raw force. I mean, she has this topspin quite powerful game that can lead her to dominate from the baseline. BUT, she does not have anymore regularly those killing shots, so she has to mix things up. And I'm so tired of hearing of her "one dimensional game" and her "ball bashing game". Yes, it is what she likes, but she and her coach should think about going more to the net, hitting volleys and even drive volleys. I mean, how many times have we seen her coming forward, waiting for the ball to bounce and hit a forehand, letting extra time to her opponent to organize herself and get the ball back in game? She knows how to volley and I'm not talking of serve and volley or something, but just going forward as soon as it is possible and taking advantage of her groundies. The best illustration of such a job would be the AO 2008, she was always determined to go to the net and finish off the point. Against Henin, in 2010, at Roland Garros, she showed that she was able to play effectively such an aggressive game. If her serve was fixed back then, I can't see no reason why she would not have won that match. ALSO, Maria never do that nowadays, but she has great DROPSHOTS that usually end up as winners. Here again, I do not know why she stopped ??
Hope that Connors has noticed all that I am talking about and will make her work more on it.
I also felt that in 2013 AO, she was hitting flatter and then, after that, just got back to Claypova. Is it me or something? Someone can help me out with that ?