Munich - An early season international break isn't always looked on too kindly by teams and their managers, but in the case of VfB Stuttgart the two-week hiatus might be just what the doctor ordered.
Recipe for success
Matchday 2's 6-1 derby demolition at the hands of FC Bayern Munich has left Bruno Labbadia's side bottom of the Bundesliga pile after two games with one goal scored and seven conceded, and that before the Europa League has even begun.
Few would have foreseen such a dire start following the sterling efforts of the previous campaign, which saw the southern club storm up the table to a fifth-placed finish. The acquisition of striker Vedad Ibisevic proved as shrewd a signing as any other in the league, with the Bosnian banging away goals for fun following the winter break.
The former 1899 Hoffenheim forward continued his fine run throughout pre-season and was influential as Stuttgart saw off the threat of Dinamo Moskva to book their place in the Europa League proper. And things got even better for Ibisevic and Co. as they cast aside SV Falkensee/Finkenkrug in the first round of the German Cup after an easy 5-0 win. So where has it all gone wrong?
Touch of luck
In truth, it probably hasn't. Luck simply wasn't on their side in the Matchday 1 defeat at home to VfL Wolfsburg; Ibisevic missed a penalty and an open goal, before Bas Dost struck a last-gasp winner. As for the trip to Bayern, Stuttgart came up against an unbelievably talented front line that just happened to be in their pomp right on cue.
Let's not forget that Martin Harnik had given the visitors the lead after already forcing a world-class save from Bayern's Manuel Neuer, before the deluge of goals either side of the break. So there's no doubt Labbadia has the weapons at his disposal to cause the very best sides in the Bundesliga problems.
Onwards and upwards
It's perhaps too soon to hit the panic button, but the manner in which Stuttgart collapsed at Bayern is something the fans won't want to see a repeat of. Going forward, creating chances shouldn't be a problem, and the goals will definitely come. After all, Cacau makes for a fine plan B in the absence of the suspended Ibisevic.
The question is: do Stuttgart have a back four capable of shutting out the likes of Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04? The early signs suggest not, but perhaps a better gauge of where they're at will be the Matchday 3 clash at home to high-flying new boys Fortuna Düsseldorf, the Bundesliga's only club yet to concede a goal this season.