Bayern Munich's win over RB Leipzig on Saturday put them top of the Bundesliga again. With less than a third of the season gone, the whole league is shaping up as most imagined, and it's to almost everyone's detriment.
Bayern's straightforward 2-0 victory over their latest challengers was barely a spectacle, thanks largely to the early sending off of Willi Orban. There's a real danger that the league is going the same way, with other clubs at a competetive disadvantage and the outcome a foregone conclusion long before genuine drama has a chance to emerge.
Bayern's sluggish start means their lead is currently only a point, but this time last year the talk was of a real challenge from Germany's east. Bayern put Leipzig in their place ahead of the winter break and after Saturday's game, Jupp Heynckes' side are overwhelming favorites to win a sixth straight title with the bookmakers.
Dortmund's defensive shortcomings are serious enough to ensure they don't look like a side capable of a title challenge, while Leipzig's performance in the German Cup on Wednesday showed they have the ability, if not neccessarily the nous or squad depth, to compete.
Equally critical is that both of those sides - though more financially powerful than the rest of the league - still operate on a different planet to the champions. Dortmund were forced, seemingly against their initial will, to sell their hottest young prospect in the close season, when Ousmane Dembele forced through a move to Barcelona. Leipzig managed to hold on to Naby Keita for this season before he gets his wish to move to Liverpool.
Further down, Bayern stripped last year's surprise package Hoffenheim of two of their best players, Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy, before the season was over. It's hard to remember the last time Bayern sold a key first team player. It just doesn't happen very often.
None of this is particularly new. Bayern have been dominant on, and particularly off the pitch for some time. But they haven't always won. Other clubs have found a way. In the six years before Bayern's current run of five successive titles, there were four different champions - Bayern (twice), Dortmund (twice), Wolfsburg and Stuttgart.
The sense of jeopardy in seasons - and matches - is what makes a league attractive for those without club loyalties - that includes both foreigners and fans of non top-flight clubs in Germany. Another Bayern title win would put that at severe risk. As much as there are misgivings about how Leipzig arrived at the top of the table, a club that can challenge Bayern's dominance is essential from a sporting perspective.
Few shocks further down
With the exception of Hannover, who have been brilliant thus far, the rest of the top half is similarly unsurprising and, as with many of Europe's top leagues, bears a striking resemblance to a table of the league's wage bills.
While many are a little taken aback with Cologne's implosion, the crises surrounding Hamburg and Werder Bremen carry with them an overwhelming sense of deja vu. It would be a great surprise if Alexander Nouri and Markus Gisdol saw out the year.
But it's at the top where the problem is the most pressing. While Saturday's game may not have been one from which to draw too many conclusions, the modern version of Bayern don't often let a lead slip. For the Bundesliga's sake, let's hope this time they do.