This season was meant to be another relegation scrap for Frankfurt. But under Niko Kovac, the Eagles are demonstrating they can elevate themselves beyond mediocrity.
Hamburg 0-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
(Holtby og 35', Tarashaj 60', Seferovic 69')
Given how close Eintracht Frankfurt came to dropping out of the Bundesliga last season, nothing can be taken for granted this time around.
It may be premature to suggest a top six finish may be on the cards, but the signs are that this season should be very different for Niko Kovac's side, who swept Hamburg aside with a mature and ruthless performance at Volksparkstadion.
But as Frankfurt fans will be quick to tell you, things have been on an upward trajectory under Kovac for some time. Since his arrival in March, which quickly led to a remarkable turnaround in fortunes including a famous 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in April, Frankfurt are a side with fresh belief and a winning mentality that has spilled into the new campaign.
Impressive victories over Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen - plus valuable points against Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich – represent a very solid start to the season. While there have been a couple of disappointing defeats thrown in there, that has to be expected of a team in transition. And the signs are there that Frankfurt are transitioning out of mediocrity under Kovac.
You never quite know what you're going to get when you travel to Hamburg, but Frankfurt have to beat what's in front of them – and Kovac set up perfectly to get the victory, with his side scoring three goals in Hamburg for the first time since 1969.
Led by the returning Jesus Vallejo at the back, Frankfurt soaked up the early Hamburg pressure, curbing the home side's early enthusiasm. They were disciplined in restricting themselves to counter-attacks in the first half, and were rewarded when a slick breakaway forced the opening goal, with Lewis Holtby turning into his own net as he tried to cut out a dangerous ball into the box.
Into the second half, Frankfurt remained in control of the game and, after Dennis Diekmeier was sent off for a second bookable offence, the Eagles capitalized almost immediately after, with Shani Tarashaj crafting some space before rifling an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Hamburg's fate was all but sealed at this point, but Kovac was afforded the additional satisfaction of watching one of his substitutes join the party, with Haris Seferovic adding a third.
In the end, it was a handsome win and one that propels Frankfurt above Dortmund and Hertha up to fourth. Psycholigically, if nothing else, it will be a huge boost for a side who merely want to stay in the Bundesliga. But if this run of form continues, the targets may have to be reassessed.