For 45 minutes on Saturday, Bayern Munich looked in danger of repeating the mistakes made in recent defeats against Leverkusen and Gladbach. Until Philippe Coutinho produced his best Bayern performance to date.
Bayern Munich 6-1 Werder Bremen, Allianz Arena
(Coutinho 45', 63', 78', Lewandowski 45+4', 72', Müller 75' - Rashica 24')
"It's a joke that they haven't won their last two games. They had so many chances, crystal-clear chances."
Those weren't the words of a frustrated Bayern Munich supporter ahead of Saturday's game against Werder Bremen but of visiting coach Florian Kohfeldt.
"But we can't rely on that being the case every week," he continued, presciently. Ninety minutes later, his team had been mercilessly torn apart by a Philippe Coutinho-inspired Bayern.
The 27-year-old became the first Brazilian to score a hat trick for the Bavarians since Giovane Elber in 2003 - and also provided two assists for Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller - as the reigning champions came from behind and returned to winning ways in spectacular fashion.
Coutinho didn't control the ball that well for his second goal, but that made it all the more impressive. The chance seemed to have gone when Coutinho didn't manage to bring down David Alaba's chip cleanly, but he quickly adjusted his body and, with a nonchalant flick of the outside of his right foot, sent the ball looping high over Jiri Pavlenka, down and in off the bar.
It made the score 3-1 and was the first of four quick-fire goals in fifteen second-half minutes in which Bayern put Bremen to the sword. Lewandowski and Müller got in on the act before Coutinho completed his hat trick with a sumptuous curling effort from the edge of the box.
The Brazilian has now been directly involved in more goals in one month under Hansi Flick than in three under Niko Kovac. His performance against Bremen was by far his best in a Bayern shirt and will give his bosses food for thought as they weigh up whether or not to pay the €120m ($133m) to make his loan from Barcelona permanent at the end of the season.
Coutinho's ruthlessness in front of goal was precisely what Bayern wanted to see.
The recent back-to-back Bundesliga defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach didn't just have a 2-1 scoreline in common; they also followed an almost identical pattern as the reigning champions spurned chance after chance before being punished by clinical opponents.
Even Lewandowski's incredible scoring run had turned into a veritable goal drought, by the Pole's standards, having gone three games without finding the net.
For 45 minutes on Saturday, it looked like it was happening again. Coutinho curled wide, Serge Gnabry headed over and Pavlenka pulled off a series of fantastic saves – including a reflex stop to tip a Lewandowski header over the bar. Bayern's high pressing – a key part of their upturn under Flick – left them vulnerable enough on the break that Milot Rashica eventually took advantage.
Suddenly, it was Groundhog Day in Munich. Then Coutinho came to the rescue, sliding in at the back post for his and Bayern's first, before setting up Lewandowski to score.
"If only halves were 44 minutes long," joked Werder Bremen's English language Twitter account. But Coutinho and Bayern weren't joking around anymore.