Freiburg - From the moment scored the opener in Borussia Dortmund's 3-0 success away to SC Freiburg, it immediately felt as if a great weight had been lifted from the Yellow-Blacks' pilloried shoulders.
Not since beating FC Augsburg on Matchday 2 had Jürgen Klopp's men played with such freedom on the road, never mind netted more than two league goals en route to their first competitive win of the calendar year.
"We knew that a few things went wrong [in the 1-0 midweek defeat] to Augsburg," admitted BVB head coach Jürgen Klopp after the game. "But that was mainly down to a lack of confidence in our abilities. The team wanted a lot, put the legwork in, but weren't rewarded for their efforts. Today it looked much better. Physically, we are in much better shape, and we also showed tactical improvements."
Chief among those post-Augsburg refinements, it would appear the decision to reinstall Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the lone striker is what ultimately gave the Ruhr district strugglers the edge at the Schwarzwald-Stadion. The Gabon international set up Reus before grabbing two goals of his own to hand BVB only their fifth league win of the campaign - three of which have now come with the 25-year-old deployed in his self-proclaimed position of choice a la Freiburg.
'It's a mental thing'
"The coach found the right words and he made the right calls," explained Aubameyang, whose seven league strikes and two assists set him apart from his team-mates as by far and away BVB's most consistent performer of a decidedly bush-league campaign by the five-time Bundesliga champions' own high standards. "We were positive throughout. That's how we got the result. It's a mental thing."
To illustrate the point, BVB have routinely weighed in with more efforts on target than almost all their domestic opponents this season, but until Saturday only had 18 goals to show for it. With the dam broken and Freiburg replacing 16th-placed Dortmund at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings, die Schwarz-Gelben will now be expected to underline Matchday 20's clinical showing with a first home win since mid-December when 1. FSV Mainz 05 come to town next weekend.
'We have to keep believing'
It was, incidentally, a 2-0 defeat to the 05ers back on Matchday 4 that sent Dortmund's campaign into a tailspin from which they have yet to fully recover. Nine of the Yellow-Blacks' 11 league defeats followed that regrettable showing at the Coface Arena, with narrow victories over Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hoffenheim providing only momentary shelter from the domestic storm overhead.
"We have to keep believing it can go forward after three or four months in which it didn't happen for us," affirmed Klopp, his each and every utterance exuding a genuine sense of relief following a miserly run that saw Dortmund travel to Freiburg with just two points to show for their last five games. "On Friday we have to prove ourselves again, but today was a step in the right direction."