Bayern Munich came out on top with a narrow 1-2 victory away to Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday, as Niko Kovac's side made their technical superiority count at the Weser-Stadion.
Following a run of three league games without a victory, it was essential for Bayern to get back to winning ways on Saturday.
Kovac's side were just about up to the task, displaying the traits of a top side assured of their technical superiority but burdened with the uncertainties of a team enduring a tough campaign.
Bayern played with incision and purpose from the outset, displaying great attacking fluidity and cohesion which defied their difficult recent run in the Bundesliga, though a lack of efficiency at both ends of the pitch was more reflective of recent struggles.
Star striker Robert Lewandowski was some way short of clinical in attack, passing up three big first half chances which such an elite forward would be expected to convert. However, Serge Gnabry continued to make good on being handed his chance by Kovac as the winger fired his side ahead 19 minutes in.
The German saw his initial effort saved, but kept his composure to tuck away the rebound. Bremen responded strongly, counter-attacking to cause the visitors some problems, and the pressure eventually told as Bayern's defence failed to deal with a strong Max Kruse cross.
Yuya Osako met the delivery to head the home side level at half time, though Bayern's rhythm was not to be disrupted by the setback.
The Bavarians continued to look dangerous and full of purpose in the second half, and Gnabry was on hand once more to fire Bayern ahead on the 50th minute and seal the three points for his side. Niklas Moisander saw red for the hosts in stoppage time, receiving a second yellow card for a foul late on to compound Bremen's defeat.
Key Talking Point
With a Bayern team selection that featured the likes of Serge Gnabry in the starting lineup in the absence of veteran Arjen Robben for the Bavarians, Kovac's side benefited from the youthful injection in the side.
Gnabry was generally Bayern's strongest attacking player in the game, initiating offensive moves with his pace and incisive runs on the right flank, and even getting on the end of attacks to open the scoring for Bayern and to force his side 2-1 up in the second half.
Kingsley Coman replaced the injured Franck Ribery just 37 minutes into the match and looked far more full of purpose and attacking threat on the left flank than his more experienced predecessor in the match.
Joshua Kimmich's vibrant play in midfield was another of Bayern's strongest qualities, with the more static Javi Martinez on the bench, proving that a freshened approach and personnel may be the way forward for Bayern to rediscover their best attacking football and winning formula.
Starting XI: Neuer (6); Rafinha (6), Sule (6), Boateng (5), Alaba (7); Goretzka (7), Kimmich (7), Gnabry (8), Muller (6), Ribery (4); Lewandowski (6).
Substitutes: Coman (6), Thiago (5), Martinez (N/A)
STAR MAN -
The German handed Bayern the initiative with a composed finish on the rebound 19 minutes in and continued to provide his side's most consistent source of attack from there on. A second half strike to restore the Bavarians' lead further established the German's key influence.
Gnabry's pace, movement and dynamism to give Bayern's attack the kind of purpose and incision which has often been lacking this season.
WORST PLAYER -
Whilst the rest of Bayern's personnel generally appeared to be on the same wave length from back to front of the pitch, Ribery often failed to keep pace with his teammates and displayed a lack of understanding of the team's rhythm. The Frenchman was substituted with an injury after just 37 minutes, replaced by compatriot Kingsley Coman.
Bayern's next outing in the Bundesliga comes next Saturday, as the Bavarians host a struggling Nurnberg side at the Allianz Arena.
After a more testing fixture away to Bremen, a home match against one of the Bundesliga's more lowly sides offers the defending champions a seemingly prime opportunity to make up ground on table-topping Borussia Dortmund.
Further ahead, Bayern return to Champions League action four days after their clash with Nurnberg as the Bavarians travel to Amsterdam to face Ajax in their closing match of the Champions League group stage.
The Bundesliga side have already secured their place in the knockout stages, but can cement top spot in the group with victory over second placed Ajax.