Munich - FC Bayern Munich's march towards a 22nd Bundesliga title continued apace on Saturday with a resounding 4-0 win against FC Schalke 04.
Barely breaking a sweat, the Bundesliga leaders systematically took apart their Royal Blue counterparts, with Mario Gomez getting his name on the Bundesliga scoreboard for the first time since 8 December 2012.
"I'm grateful to the coach because he made a brave decision to play me," explained the goal-hungry striker. "Not many people thought I would start the game. It was an important game for us because we knew we could profit from other results and take a big step forwards."
Indeed, Bayern stretched their lead over Borussia Dortmund to a seemingly unassailable 15 points after the champions succumbed to a surprise 4-1 defeat at the hands of Hamburger SV just hours earlier - their fourth defeat of the 2012/13 campaign.
Strength in depth
"We’re happy that we were to play with a different XI and win the game 4-0," continued Gomez in reference to coach Jupp Heynckes' decision to rotate his title-chasing squad for the first time this calendar year.
Gomez' inclusion ahead of top scorer Mario Mandzukic, as well as those of centre-back Jerome Boateng and Dutch winger Arjen Robben, was yet another startling illustration of the unparalleled quality that runs through this talented Bayern bunch.
"People said it would be tough coming back into the team without much match practice but for me, being right in the head is more important than being completely match fit," said Gomez. "It's pretty remarkable, to find out I was playing on Thursday, then to win the game 4-0 and for me to score a goal. The coach could have been criticised for that."
As things transpired, Heynckes' shrewd handling of his squad was never once in doubt and will remain crucial as Bayern push along the road to Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League glory.
Christopher Mayer-Lodge in Munich