Dortmund - With memories of last season's struggles perhaps still too close for comfort, it took until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had put the seal on Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 victory over Hannover 96 with an 85th-minute penalty for the travelling faithful really to begin singing their hearts out. The song they chose: "And now you’re going to believe us… We're going to win the league!" (Or its German equivalent, at least.)
After last season's toils, Dortmund are again dreaming. Thomas Tuchel's side would be candidates to reclaim the mantle of 'Bayern-chaser number one' from VfL Wolfsburg, if they weren’t actually sitting top of the league. Rather than hunters, Dortmund have swiftly become the hunted.
Never in 53 long, memorable years of Bundesliga football has a side started with four wins and the imposing figures of 15 goals for and only three against. Allow bundesliga.com to present the reasons behind the BVB renaissance…
More clinical in front of goal
It has been BVB's forward line that has caught the eye in 2015/16. Die Schwarz-Gelben have fired in 68 shots in the first 360 minutes of the campaign under new coach Thomas Tuchel, and while that is a very similar number to the 67 they had fired in under Jürgen Klopp after four games last season, there is one crucial difference.
Whereas in 2014/15, Dortmund needed 11 shots per goal, currently Aubameyang and Co. require just five to trouble the scorers. The Gabon international (l.) himself has already netted five times; at this stage last season he had one goal to his name. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been another revelation: the Armenian international already has three goals – as many as the whole of last season.
Ginter flourishing out wide
In 2014/15, injuries seemed to knock Dortmund down every time they had seemingly lifted themselves from the canvas. This season, however, Tuchel has used enforced absences as a chance to experiment. With both first-choice full-backs, Lukasz Piszczek and Erik Durm, out, Matthias Ginter (r.) has shone at right-back.
"After their injuries, I went up to him and asked if he could see himself playing at right-back," explained Tuchel. "He said that he definitely could." It has been an inspired move: the 21-year-old has already created three goals - as many as any full-back in the league.
Hunger to improve
The former Freiburg youngster has also been excellent in defence - along with Marcel Schmelzer at left-back and centre-half pairing of Mats Hummels and Sokratis. BVB have, however, conceded eight goals in the last five competitive games, fostering a desire to improve as quickly as possible. "We need to be a little bit better," explained Hummels (l.), who nevertheless won 87 per cent of his tackles against Hannover.
It is a view echoed by goalkeeper Roman Bürki. "There are still things to improve in defence," explained the Swiss stopper, before singling out the error that led to Hannover’s opener in the 18th minute. "That can't happen, particularly when the game was starting to go in our favour."
The record trail
As long as the attack continues scoring one goal more than the opposition, however, then BVB have little to worry about. Dortmund are indeed on course for a record-breaking season in terms of goals. Were they to continue scoring at the current rate, BVB would end the season with 127 goals – Bayern hold the current record with 101.
Tuchel's side have also already begun retraining their season objectives and are halfway to hunting down FC Bayern München's record from 2012/13 of beginning the season with eight consecutive wins (although the record champions might have something to say about that on Matchday 8).
Four wins in a row has a significance of its own for BVB fans, however. In 2001/02, die Schwarz-Gelben began the campaign with four wins and ended it by lifting the club's sixth title.