RB Leipzig have stormed past almost every challenge they've faced but a win over Bayern Munich still eludes them. DW's Matt Pearson saw Bayern Munich - and an early decision - derail their latest attempt.
In their short history, RB Leipzig have managed to lose to Bayern Munich in almost every way. Last season the upstarts were taught a lesson in December before losing a thriller they thought they'd won in May. This term they've managed to lose on penalties in the German Cup and see their hopes disappear within 13 minutes in one October week. The Munich monkey remains well and truly on the Red Bull's back.
There's nothing new about living life at an accelerated pace for the club fueled by an energy drink company but, for all their achievements in the last few years, the statement win over the Bundesliga's biggest beasts continues to elude them.
If Wednesday's German Cup loss was a hard luck tale, this read more like a horror story. The early sending off of Willi Orban killed the game, robbing the visitors of their latest opportunity to land a knockout punch on Bayern and the spectators of the closely-fought title clash they anticipated. Many voted with their feet, pouring out the exits in the second half.
"I think everyone thought the red card destroyed the game a little bit," Leipzig's Emil Forsberg told DW after the game. "You could see in the second half that people were leaving after 60 minutes. I think Bayern just closed the game off and we tried to defend well.
"I think we could have had a really good chance of beating them today if it wasn't for the red card. We have really good confidence now but it's hard to beat Bayern when you're ten guys."
If the Leipzig skipper's dismissal meant it was diffcult for neutral observers to draw too many conclusions about the side many consider to be Bayern's strongest challengers in the short, medium and long term, those connected with the hosts will need little encouragement to believe they are back to their dominant best.
When Jupp Heynckes took over, the Bavarians were five points behind Dortmund and one above Leipzig in the Bundesliga. Now, they sit three points clear of the former and four clear of the latter.
They took their familiar position at the top of the pile for the first time this season and did so without really breaking a sweat. Even before Orban's dismissal, David Alaba and Mats Hummels went close, as the lethargy of the last days of Carlo Ancelotti's reign seemed an age - rather than a month - ago.
As soon as Robert Lewandowski slotted home the second to break his mini-drought, the match was as good as over, though in the long run the Polish stirker's removal just before the break could be the best thing that happened to Leipzig on Saturday.
"You always want to lay down a marker, but you're also dependent on what others do," said Bayern's Dutch winger Arjen Robben after the game. "That's not in our hands, only what we do is.
"So far, we've had the maximum success. It's amazing, in two weeks we've gone from five points back to three points ahead at the top."
With just one point separating the top three ahead of Saturday's games, whispers of a genuine Bundesliga title race had started to increase in volume. While this result and Dortmund's defeat in Hannover don't render the discussion moot, they do swing the odds even more in the champions' favor.
"The time will come," said Forsberg when pressed on whether his side could end their miserable run against Bayern. "I think we could have had a really good chance today but we didn't. But there's a long time left."
There is indeed. But in a league where the top two or three seem a notch above the rest, results against each other may well be critical in deciding who finishes where. Forsberg and Leipzig - and fans of genuine competition for the title - will have to hope Bayern's spell is broken when these sides meet again next March.