Last season, they were long involved in the race for UEFA Champions League places – and one game away from a first DFB Cup final appearance in their own backyard. But when Hertha Berlin ran out of steam down the all-deciding home straight, eventually having to make do with a seventh-place finish, there was a real sense of an opportunity missed.
By the time they were unexpectedly dispatched from the third qualifying round of the Europa League by Denmark's Brøndby IF, the blue-and-white flags in the capital were metaphorically flying at half-mast, the pundits queuing up to predict a difficult year ahead for the venerable alte Dame. It now seems they were somewhat premature.
Pal Dardai's troops opened the new Bundesliga campaign with three wins on the spin against SC Freiburg, FC Ingolstadt 04 and FC Schalke 04. Matchday 4's trip to FC Bayern München proved a bridge too far but it was not until the final quarter that the record champions managed to kill the game off as a contest against their obdurate visitors. After being denied by an added-time equaliser against Eintracht Frankfurt, the capital club returned to winning ways on Matchday 6 with a 2-0 victory over struggling Hamburger SV.