Munich - Nothing lasts forever and for FC Bayern München, a Bundesliga record-shattering unbeaten run came to an end at the 53-game mark in the provincial surroundings of FC Augsburg's SGL Arena.
Sascha Mölders' 31st-minute strike sent the majority of the sell-out 30,660 crowd into raptures and with Bayern unable to breach the hosts' defences in the hour of play remaining to them, the headed home from their western Bavarian neighbours with the long-forgotten taste of league defeat in their mouths.
Prior to that, Bayer 04 Leverkusen had been the last team to beat them in the top flight, edging a 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena way back on 28 October 2012. The first opportunity for the men from Munich to get back to winning ways on the domestic front comes against none other than their number one rivals Borussia Dortmund and that, in itself, may be no bad thing from Bayern's point of view.
With the title already sewn up by the end of Matchday 27 and before the end of March – a further Bundesliga milestone on both counts – the chance to complete a first home-and-away double in four seasons over the team they beat to become champions of Europe last year can only serve as a welcome added incentive.
Prodigal son returns
On the face of it the hard part has been done already, Bayern having emerged from the seething cauldron of the Signal Iduna Park with a 3-0 victory in the bag last November. The memorable turning point in that end-to-end encounter was Mario Götze's 66th-minute opener not long after having come off the bench to a less than rapturous reception at his former stomping ground – an experience which he later acknowledged would remain with him for a long time to come.
A few months short of his 22nd birthday, Götze has moved on from being the German game's ultimate wunderkind, putting successive pre- and early-season injury woes behind him to demonstrate that he is, as anticipated, very much new coach Pep Guardiola's kind of player.
Two Marios, two styles, equally potent
Eight goals, seven assists and nigh-on eighty scoring chances created in just 16 starting appearances, plus seven more off the bench, are testimony to the aplomb with which the versatile frontline supertalent has slotted into his new surroundings. Any jeering he encounters from the travelling Dortmund support this time around is as likely to be underpinned by performance-related anxiety as by any residual resentment over his unanticipated switch to Bayern last summer.
Not that Götze is by any means the only attacking player in the home ranks more than able to keep the BVB defence at full stretch, of course. There were slim pickings to be had for Mario Mandzukic at Augsburg last time out, but that will only have sharpened the Croatia international's hunger to add to his division-topping 17-goal tally. The fact that he is joined on that mark by his Dortmund counterpart Robert Lewandowski, himself Bayern-bound at the end of the current campaign, unquestionably gives an extra dash of spice to the occasion.
Changes in the offing
In all, Guardiola can be reasonably expected to field a rather different side to the Matchday 29 starting XI. Thomas Müller, for example, only had a half-hour cameo at Augsburg with which to try and add to his 12 goals and eight assists this season, while star wide midfield duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, along with skipper Philipp Lahm, did not even feature in the squad.
The coach meanwhile gave no fewer than three young prospects their first top-flight start – Mitchell Weiser and Ylli Sallahi in the full back slots and Pierre Hojbjerg on the left side of midfield. Weiser's loss of possession to Daniel Baier led directly to Augsburg's winning goal but Guardiola was subsequently at pains to point out that, “It wasn't down to our youngsters that we lost. Hojbjerg and Weiser were the best players on the pitch.”
Gracious in defeat, the Catalan tactician said there were “no complaints. We lost because our opponents were a little bit better than us.” He was equally phlegmatic about the brakes being put on that record unbeaten run, noting simply, “that's football, that's sport. You can't win all the time. Sooner or later, we had to get beaten.” And having done so, Bayern are in no mood to repeat the experience against Germany's second-best side this weekend.
Take a look at the best goals Bayern have scored against Dortmund courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: