Back in the Bayer starting line-up, another well-known face: Michael Ballack
A handball by Gonzalo Castro (l., against Ivo Ilicevic) gives the hosts the opportunity to take the lead from the spot...
...and Mladen Petric duly obliges, to put the Red Shorts in the driving seat at the break
Renato Augusto (l.) and Co. battle back well though...
Schalke 04 vs. Hannover 96 on Sunday: Two sides in need of a boost following their respective Europa League exits
And it's the hosts who get it early on, as Raul (m.) heads them in front with just six minutes played
The Royal Blues maintain the pressure on their off-colour guests - Julian Draxler (m.) going head-to-head with Hannover's Mame Diouf (r.) here
Two minutes after the restart, Raul strikes again for Schalke - a superb goal, laid on, like the first, by Jefferson Farfan (l.)
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (r., with Christian Schulz in the background) puts the result beyond doubt in the 63rd minute, taking his own season tally to 24...
...and promptly hitches a lift with Farfan, the Peruvian international having just completed a "hattrick" of assists
The Foals' star forward Marco Reus has to take his leave early on with a dead leg
Hertha keeper Thomas Kraft (l.) holds onto the ball with teammate Roman Hubnik holding Igor de Camargo at bay
Gladbach frontman Mike Hanke gets an unwanted leg up here
Hertha duo Peter Niemeyer (l.) and Nikita Rukavytsya put the squeeze on Filip Daems - no goals and points shared in the end at the Borussia Park
Bayern Munich could hardly have managed a better start than a goal from Mario Gomez (2.l.) after just 24 seconds against FC Augsburg
Bayern star Franck Ribery (l.) marks his 29th birthday...
...with a display that has the guest defence at full stretch
Nonetheless, neither Ribery, Manuel Neuer (2.r.) nor anyone else on the home side has much grounds for celebration...
...when Ja-Cheol Koo (r., against Bastian Schweinsteiger) pulls the underdogs right back into the contest midway through the half
But Gomez strikes again in the second half to finally see off plucky Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund meanwhile have a tricky trip to improving VfL Wolfsburg to negotiate
Neven Subotic (l., against Mario Mandzukic) helps keep the BVB ship steady at the back early on...
...while at the other end, Robert Lewandowski fires the champs in front
...before Shinji Kajawa (l.) and Co. find themselves briefly under the cosh as the Wolves pull one back
But Lewandowski puts the result beyond doubt at the death - and next up for BVB it's FC Bayern!
Hoffenheim's Sven Schipplock and Rodnei of cellar-dwellers Kaiserslautern get up close and personal
Sejad Salihovic (l.) once again demonstrates his penalty-taking prowess to put the visitors in front
Boris Vukcevic (r.) puts 1899 2-0 up with just under 20 minutes remaining...
...and the points are theirs, a late consolation strike for the Red Devils from Alexander Bugera notwithstanding
Markus Rosenberg puts the visitors in front with their very first attempt in the 24th minute
Ammar Jemal (l., with Sascha Riether) does then head them level before the break - and 1-1 it finishes
Struggling SC Freiburg are at home to 1. FC Nuremberg, themselves not safe from the drop yet: Daniel Didavi (r., against Oliver Sorg) fires the visitors into an early lead
SC skipper Julian Schuster (r.) then has to depart the action due to a nose injury that will mean the end of the season for him...
...and the bad news mounts for the hosts as Tomas Pekhart (l.) fires Nuremberg 2-0 up before the interval
Eight minutes after the restart, Daniel Caligiuri (r.) pulls one back for Freiburg from the spot...
...and with eleven minutes to go Cedrick Makiadi (not pictured) salvages the home side a valuable point in the battle against the drop
Stuttgart vs. Mainz: Andreas Ivanschitz (r.) puts the visitors in front from the spot after all of three minutes...
...but five minutes later Tamas Hajnal levels the contest with a sweet strike
Serdar Tasci (l., against Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting) and his on-form teammates maintain the tempo...
...and Martin Harnik (l., against Eugen Polanski) goes desperately close twice before...
...Vedad Ibisevic (r.) bags the first of his two goals early in the second half, Zdravko Kuzmanovic netting as well as VfB run out 4-1 winners