- Dortmund end 2016 12 points from summit and nine below second.
- Westphalians eased into last 16 of Champions League, ahead of Real Madrid in their group.
- Only Bayern scored more than BVB, but defence has been leaky.
It has been something of a roller-coaster campaign for Borussia Dortmund so far; a mixture of the magnificent and the mundane, with inconsistency the only invariable.
A 1-1 home draw with Augsburg rounded out the year in typically anti-climactic fashion, leaving last season's runners-up to spend the winter break in an underwhelming sixth place.
Watch: Highlights of a memorable year for Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:
Head coach Thomas Tuchel did not pull his punches after the match, admitting, "We completely lost the thread and made incredibly basic mistakes. I've no idea why." Expanding on the theme, the renowned perfectionist lamented, "Bite, structure, energy – We're coming up short in all these areas, time and again."
Against a battling Augsburg side, Dortmund fell behind for the seventh game in a row – thanks to a collective defensive blunder, for good measure. "It's not against the law to keep a clean sheet, take the lead for once and actually win," Tuchel remarked on the back of his side's third straight draw in the league: "The number of times we're falling behind is just crazy."
Watch: Highlights of Dortmund's barnstorming draw with Ingolstadt on Matchday 8:
Imbuing his highly gifted squad with a degree of consistency is the coach's most pressing task in the 18 games still outstanding. This while bearing in mind that Dortmund did over the summer lose their entire central creative axis with the triple departure of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The raft of supertalents arriving in their stead evidently need a little more time to adapt to the finer points of the Tuchel system, which powered BVB to a Bundesliga record-best second place in 2015/16.
"We want to qualify directly for the Champions League, ideally by finishing second." - Hans-Joachim Watzke
"We're certainly four or five points short of where we should be, but I don't see any grounds for panic whatsoever," sporting director Michael Zorc contextualised. "We know where we've got to shift up a gear. We can address that deficit over the second half of the season." CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke struck a similar chord, insisting, "There's no reason for us to deviate from our target. We want to qualify directly for the Champions League, ideally by finishing second."
The latter part of that aim already looks quite a stretch, with Dortmund trailing current incumbents Leipzig by nine points. Renewed qualification for the Champions League, on the other hand, remains eminently feasible – and perhaps, after last summer's fundamental shake-up, it is as much as Dortmund can reasonably expect. Thus far, they have saved much of their best work for Europe's elite club competition. The puzzle for Tuchel and his assistants is how to replicate that form closer to home in 2017.