Despite all the positive elements in their run-up to the second half of the season, it's not been all sunshine and roses for ambitious Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96, while the bottom five clubs have all made it clear that none of them are ready to give up their top-flight status without a fight.
Gladbach were successful both off and on the pitch during their one-week Dubai winter training camp, flying the Bundesliga flag as the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga ambassadors and earning positive results against fellow Bundesliga sides Eintracht Frankfurt (a 3-2 win) and Hamburger SV (2-2).
"The team was very focused and keen," said the Foals' sporting director Max Eberl. "Everyone was eager to impress the coach and worked well." Going into the second half of the season only one point off the European spots, the five-time domestic champions are likely to throw everything into their opening game at 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Top fact: Gladbach's defenders have been particularly dangerous on their forays forward, netting eight goals between them, more than any other Bundesliga back four.
While Stuttgart enjoyed a successful winter training camp in Turkey, coach Bruno Labbadia felt his men lacked the necessary calm in front of goal: "We had the chances, I would have liked the team to reward themselves for some great work in training."
Further difficulties came in the form of personnel upheaval, with the likes of Cacau, Tunay Torun and suspended striker Vedad Ibisevic all unavailable for the Matchday 18 trip to VfL Wolfsburg. On top of that Mexico captain Maza returned to his homeland, joining Club America, while Ivory Coast left-back Arthur Boka will also be missing due to his participation in the African Nations Cup.
Top fact: Stuttgart's strikers may not have been ruthless in front of goal at their Belek training camp, but it's been a different story domestically. and Co. have the Bundesliga's best attempts-per-goal ratio this term, needing only an average of 3.6 chances to score.
16th-placed 1899 Hoffenheim presented themselves in promising form in their two test victories against Dutch top-flight sides, their first matches under new coach Marco Kurz (right). "Our legs might be tired, but this week helped us a lot," said full-back Andreas Beck. "The intensive work on the pitch and in particular the two friendly successes helped breed confidence which we'll need for the tasks ahead."
Former captain Beck could face a tough task winning a place in the starting eleven for their opener against Gladbach following the signing of 22-year-old Peru international Luis Advincula.
Top fact: Germany U-21 international Kevin Volland has set up seven goals so far, leaving him joint-top of the assists-chart.
Looking to bounce back from their disappointing first half of the season, new Wolves coach Dieter Hecking is in good spirits ahead of his side's Bundesliga restart against VfB Stuttgart. "The team has recognised there's room for improvement and that there are still things to achieve," said the 48-year-old on the back of some mixed friendly results.
Croatia international (left) has impressed since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, scoring in both his first two appearances. However, Hecking will have to do without the services of long-term absentee Patrick Helmes and winger Vaclav Pilar due to injury, and will have to reshuffle his defence due to Naldo's suspension.
Top fact: Summer recruit has struck a staggering 41 per cent of Wolfsburg's goals (seven of 17).
Having conceded the second-most goals of any side in the Hinrunde (31), it was hardly a surprise to see Hannover 96 strengthen their defence during the winter break. The Reds brought in Johan Djourou (right) from Arsenal, Germany youth international Andre Hoffmann and Brazilian holding midfielder Franca.
Friendly wins against Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Dutch side SC Herenveen suggested some good early form, but defeat against FC Utrecht was a setback for Mirko Slomka's men. "It was a good test", said Slomka, " but it's a shame that we got punished for missing a penalty and hitting the post."
Didier Ya Konan will be not be available for the restart against Schalke, the Ivory Coast forward having been called up for the African Nations Cup.
Top fact: Hannover's forwards have been more crucial than those of any other team. , Mohammed Abdellaoue and Co. have hit the net a combined 16 times.
On the whole, two victories and a defeat in their friendlies represented a positive start for the club's former U-23 coach Michael Wiesinger (left), who took over following Dieter Hecking's departure to Wolfsburg.
The results might not all have been perfect, but 40-year-old former FC Bayern Munich midfielder was nonetheless delighted with his team's attitude in their final test against Belgian top-flight club RAEC Mons: "The win was hard-fought. We showed a good spirit, that's what it's about in the end." Nuremberg will take on Hamburger SV as they resume the relegation battle this weekend.
Top fact: Nuremberg have conceded the fewest times from set-pieces of any Bundesliga side - only twice and each time from the penalty spot.
South Korea striker Dong-Won Ji has hit the ground running since joining from Sunderland, scoring in each of FC Augsburg's friendlies - a win against lower league Hansa Rostock and a draw against Bundesliga 2 outfit FSV Frankfurt. However, coach Markus Weinzierl still dissatisfied, pointing out that "there were some positives, but there's no doubt about us having to do better at [Fortuna] Düsseldorf".
Defensive players Sebastian Langkamp, Paul Verhaegh and Andreas Ottl are still injured, which might hand newly-signed USA defender Michael Parkhurst (right) an opportunity to make his full debut on Saturday.
Top fact: Augsburg have been early birds this season, scoring four times within the first ten minutes and hitting the net at the first attempt three times.
Despite sitting bottom of the table, Greuther Fürth appeared in high spirits as they tried to lay the foundation for a successful survival bid during their winter training camp. "I believe we still have a chance," stated head coach Mike Büskens.
Two victories in three test matches will have added to the promoted club's hopes, with newly-recruited Serbian Nikola Djurdjic striking twice in those matches. Both Wolfgang Hesl and Max Grün will do battle to start between the sticks in Fürth's Bavarian clash against Bayern Munich on Matchday 18.
Top fact: Fürth won six of their nine points away from home, scoring seven goals in the process - four more than they managed on home turf.