It was almost too easy. Real Madrid thumped a mediocre Mallorca on Sunday to match Barcelona's 5-0 win at Rayo Vallecano and return to winning ways after losing at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday but, as Jose Mourinho admitted afterwards, there was still something missing.
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that, this time last year, it was Madrid - and not Barca - who were in control of La Liga. This term, however, it is the Catalans out in front following a superb start to the season and Atletico hanging on in second, with Madrid eight points adrift in fourth place.
"We are on a positive track," Mourinho said. "Even though we lost in the Champions League. We are winning games, but we are not playing as well as we did last season."
At the moment, that matters little. The important thing for Madrid is to remain in touch with Barca and that was all but assured from the moment Gonzalo Higuain made it 1-0 after seven minutes following a monumental mix-up in the Mallorca defence - the Argentine making a timely return to form following a frustrating few weeks.
Cristiano Ronaldo then scored the second with just 21 minutes gone with a low angled shot into the bottom corner and it was all too easy. Madrid were not playing that well, they did not need to.
Ronaldo chalked up his first assist of the season as he created Higuain's second midway through the second half and added another minutes later as he raced through the locals' defence before producing a slick finish to move up to joint seventh on the club's list of all-time Liga scorers with 123 goals, alongside both Pirri and Emilio Butragueno.
There was still time for another, too, as substitute Jose Callejon became Madrid's first Spanish scorer of the season with his last-minute strike for 5-0, a scoreline identical to Barcelona's at Rayo Vallecano the night before.