Munich - Losing to your closest rivals is always a bitter pill to swallow, but to do so with barely a whimper in your own stadium makes it particularly difficult to digest.
Yet that is the reality the FC Bayern München players were waking up to on Sunday after their 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, a result which represented a second successive league loss and a third game on the bounce without a win for the Bundesliga champions.
Despite having wrapped up the title in record time, one glance at Pep Guardiola's team sheet was enough to see that Bayern were fully intent on beating the Westphalians for the second time this season, making just three changes from the side that started against Manchester United during the week. "You always want to beat the club that have been your rivals for the past four or five years, and probably will be for the next few as well," said Thomas Müller.
Yet in spite of that assertion, the German international had a simple explanation for the defeat. "We just weren't as fresh or hungry as we really should be, or at least should want to be," he continued. Indeed, since sealing the title Bayern have picked up just one point in three Bundesliga matches, their worst run since 2010.
Guardiola, ever the analyst, pinpointed the reason for that after the final whistle. "I think it's a problem that we've already won the Bundesliga," the Spaniard admitted to Sky. "It happened to me in Barcelona. After we had clinched the league title, we really struggled to raise our game. As coach, the aim for me now is to build the team up again." The 43-year-old indicated that to do so might involve him ditching his recent rotation policy that has knocked the team off its stride - starting XIs against both Augsburg and Hoffenheim contained at least seven changes compared to the previous game.
"Maybe it was a mistake not just to carry on as we were, but I don't want to make rotation out to be an excuse," said Guardiola, who is likely to stick with the same personnel in the DFB Cup semi-final at home to 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Wednesday. His first-choice line-up should then tackle Eintracht Braunschweig in the Bundesliga next weekend with a view to gaining momentum for the subsequent Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid CF.
Decider in Berlin?
"We've not won for three Bundesliga games so you could say we've had better times this season," added Müller, the frustration audible in his voice. "We've got to ensure we fight our way into every game. We can't make an excuse out of how difficult it is psychologically. At the end of the day, we want to win every game, but we're just lacking that hunger. We're a bit deflated and we haven't been able to get to grips with that, but we've got to move on and ensure we win our next few games. That's how it is in football."
Defeat on Wednesday would be more costly, with a place in the Berlin cup final at stake. Dortmund could be their opponents in the capital, giving them a chance to exact revenge when silverware is at stake once again. "Let's not forget that we beat Dortmund 3-0 when it mattered most," said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. "So for now we're just all square."
Take another look at BVB's goals at the Allianz Arena, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: