Four points clear at the top of the table and scoring goals for fun, the feel-good factor has returned to Borussia Dortmund and stirred hopes among the BVB faithful of ending Bayern Munich's six-year grip on the Bundesliga title, especially after their 3-2 defeat of the record champions on Matchday 11. bundesliga.com outlines five reasons why 2018/19 could be Dortmund's season.
1) Best attacking options since Klopp era
With 33 Bundesliga goals registered already this term – seven more than their nearest rivals – Lucien Favre's side are a seemingly unstoppable force in the final third. Paco Alcacer, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Christian Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen have all been in electrifying form, bringing the kind of excitement levels not witnessed at the Signal Iduna Park since the latter days of the Jürgen Klopp era, when Reus was joined up front by Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Reus and Co. now have a supporting cast including Mahmoud Dahoud, Maximilian Philipp, Marius Wolf and Mario Götze, providing a strength in depth that has been lacking in recent years. The same is true throughout the squad, with Marwin Hitz pushing Roman Bürki for the No.1 jersey, Achraf Hakimi vying for Lukas Piszczek's right-back slot and no fewer than 14 midfielders on the books.
2) Reus pulling the strings
Reus has always been a key figure at Dortmund, but a seemingly never-ending succession of injuries have blighted recent seasons. However, now that he's fit and healthy once again - no player in Favre's side has played more than his 952 minutes this season - the 29-year-old is the undisputed figurehead at BVB, especially following the departures of senior figures including Aubameyang, Nuri Sahin, Roman Weidenfeller and Sokratis.
And he is evidently entirely at ease with the responsibility, having been moved inside to a more central playmaking role from his customary position wide on the left. His eight goals and four assists in the Bundesliga so far this season are testament to that, while his mere presence on the pitch boosts the side - just look at his impact in BVB's thrilling Klassiker win over Bayern.
Watch: Reus thriving in his new role at Dortmund
3) The Favre factor
Not that Reus is content simply with winning games, though: the attacker is determined to help return his hometown club to former glories. "When you sign a new four-year contract with a club at the age of 28 or 29, you do so with a specific purpose in mind," he told bundesliga.com after penning a new deal earlier this year. "It's about trying to get the team back to the level we were at before. That's where we all want to be."
The mastermind behind the scenes is the unflappable figure of Favre. He my not have picked up any silverware at his previous clubs Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Nice, but his achievements with each are worthy of medals. Upon taking charge of the former ahead of the 2007/08 season, Hertha had finished in 10th place on 44 points. When Favre left two years later, they finished fourth with a whopping 69 points.
It was a similar story at Gladbach. Bottom of the Bundesliga when Favre was handed the reins in 2010/11, he saved them from relegation that year and went on to mould the team into regular top-six finishers, qualifying for European competition twice in the next three seasons.
Reus himself said something similar of his time Favre at Gladbach: "It was great to experience how meticulous a coach can be. He does everything himself, both out on the pitch and in the changing room, and has everything under control. I hope he still works like that. If so, we'll get Dortmund back in the groove." So far, so good.
4) History on Dortmund's side
While Bayern are unlikely to give up their crown without a fight, there is some historical precedent to Dortmund winning the title when Bayern have a wobble. The last time the Bavarians were this low – or lower – in the table after 11 rounds of matches was in 2010/11, when they were ninth with 16 points on the board. The champions that season? That's right: Dortmund.
The difference is that now there is a feeling of steel running through the Dortmund side thanks to the arrivals of midfield enforcers Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel. Where BVB might previously have been overpowered by muscular, physical sides, there is little chance of that happening now.
Watch: Owo meets Delaney
5) Mental toughness
"He brought character into the game," said Reus of Witsel after he helped Dortmund overcome a dogged Greuther Fürth side in the DFB Cup first round. "We've needed a player like him." Reus was equally vocal in his praise for Delaney: "He's an outstanding player, the kind of player we've been missing in the past," he told Kicker. "We've had players who do the dirty work before, but in the tough games you need a player like him in that position. If the game calls for it, he'll slide in and switch the momentum in the other direction. Thomas could be very important for us."
That in turn has helped Dortmund add an unglamorous - but equally significant - aspect to their game: the ability to grind out results.
Having been on the receiving end of an unlikely comeback last season, when Schalke fought back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4, Dortmund's mental toughness appears to have gone up a notch this term.
Favre's men went 1-0 and 2-1 down against Augsburg to win 4-3 on Matchday 7, just a few days after overturning a 2-0 deficit against Bayer Leverkusen to post a 4-2 victory. On Matchday 4 they trailed Hoffenheim 1-0 for 40 minutes before Pulisic struck with a late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw, and of course they twice came from behind to overcome Bayern after a brace from their former star Lewandowski.
Such resilience could yet be decisive over the course of a long season.