Taylor–Couette (TC) flow is used to probe the hydrodynamical (HD) stability of astrophysical accretion disks. Experimental data on the subcritical stability of TC flow are in conflict about the existence of turbulence (cf. Ji et al. (Nature, vol. 444, 2006, pp. 343–346) and Paoletti et al. (Astron. Astroph., vol. 547, 2012, A64)), with discrepancies attributed to end-plate effects. In this paper we numerically simulate TC flow with axially periodic boundary conditions to explore the existence of subcritical transitions to turbulence when no end plates are present. We start the simulations with a fully turbulent state in the unstable regime and enter the linearly stable regime by suddenly starting a (stabilizing) outer cylinder rotation. The shear Reynolds number of the turbulent initial state is up to $Re_s \lesssim 10^5$Res≲105 and the radius ratio is $\eta =0.714$η=0.714. The stabilization causes the system to behave as a damped oscillator and, correspondingly, the turbulence decays. The evolution of the torque and turbulent kinetic energy is analysed and the periodicity and damping of the oscillations are quantified and explained as a function of shear Reynolds number. Though the initially turbulent flow state decays, surprisingly, the system is found to absorb energy during this decay.