Liga - Mourinho 'second-season syndrome' kicking in at Real
Jose Mourinho has often said his teams do better in his second season in charge and Real Madrid's thrashing of Lyon in the Champions League provided further evidence to back his claim.
Real were utterly dominant against an unambitious Lyon team at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, running out 4-0 winners with goals from Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Sergio Ramos.
Three wins from three games without conceding a goal left the Spaniards top of Group D, five points ahead of Ajax and Lyon, in their quest to improve on last season's semi-final appearance.
Real are pursuing a record 10th European Cup, and Mourinho his third with three different clubs, and it seems to be coming together even without Cristiano Ronaldo getting on the scoresheet.
The world's most expensive player notched an incredible 53 goals in all competitions last year but this season he has been a more creative influence and he provided yet another assist to set up the opening goal for Benzema.
"Ronaldo seems fine to me. I'm delighted with him," former Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale coach Mourinho said.
"It would be a problem if he didn't score and the team also didn't win. It happened against Levante and Racing Santander. He hasn't scored in the last few games but the team has so it's not a problem.
"I also liked seeing him giving an intelligent and selfless performance tonight. He won the Golden Boot and the La Liga top scorer award last year and he wants to win things that are more important this season," Mourinho added.
Real have turned the rapid counter-attack into an art form of late but sometimes struggle when teams defend deep and deny them space into which to run.
In dismantling Lyon, who set out to do just that, they showcased their growing ability to adapt against a team that have caused them plenty of heartache in recent European campaigns.
"The game was more about control, more about possession and patience," Real midfielder Xabi Alonso said.
"It was about creating chances with less haste and we achieved that. It´s a good sign because it proved we can do it and that we can win that way".
Real have scored 21 goals and conceded three in their last five matches and could even afford to start with Gonzalo Higuain on the bench. The Argentina striker had scored three hat-tricks in the previous two weeks.
"I like many things about my team but we have to improve.
That said, we're having a positive run," Mourinho added.