Bayern Munich will have to wait at least for another week to seal their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title. But their dominance over erstwhile rivals Borussia Dortmund was so total in Saturday night's 6-0 rout that even the insatiable serial champions could not help but feel a bit uncomfortable.
"It was a little painful to sense their bewilderment," Bayern captain Thomas Muller admitted with genuine empathy. "We can only wish for Dortmund to readily get back on track next week. We need good teams [in the Bundesliga] and in Europe, too."
Bayern's supremacy in that rather eerie non-contest was such that it was they who threw in the towel on behalf of the sorry Black and Yellows in the second half. There was simply no need to expand more energy throwing punches at an opponent that was no longer down and out for the count but already out of the ring altogether, weighing up premature retirement.
"We slowed down the rhythm," coach Jupp Heynckes said.
For neutrals, it was a sad sight. BVB, the only team that had successfully broken up Bayern's hegemony in the first half of the decade, were merely able to provide some gentle sparring practice ahead of the Bavarians' trip to Seville on Tuesday night.
Was this jolly cakewalk in the Allianz Arena really the ideal preparation for facing a street smart team in the hostile environment of the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, however? Muller's claim that a strong Dortmund were in Bayern's interest begged that very question.
As much they surely enjoy being able to rotate in league games that hold little danger, Muller and other veterans of the 2013 treble all agree that if it had not been for the tough challenge posed by Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund, Bayern might not have been forced to innovate tactically and to up their all-round game. Without any realistic prospect of a similar external threat sharpening minds any time soon, Bayern will have to be even more reliant on self-motivation. Which is where the new and as yet unidentified manager will come in. Saturday's game was both reassuring and troubling in that respect.
On the one hand, Bayern's phenomenally gifted and deep squad -- and the relative paucity of the other top Bundesliga sides -- puts them into firm pole position domestically, independent of the man in charge on the touchline. A thoroughly mediocre coach is more likely to win the league next year than finish second. That explains why the board have been fairly relaxed in their prolonged search for a successor to Heynckes. In public, at least.
At the same time, the need to find inspiration and innovation in-house will only get greater next year. In their quest "to shorten the intervals between Champions League wins," as Executive Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge put it after Bayern had lifted the trophy for a fifth time at Wembley five years ago, they had been buoyed by the promise of managerial expertise.
Pep Guardiola had offered tactical sophistication at stratospheric levels, Carlo Ancelotti a superb track record in working with big egos and negotiating clutch games in the biggest club competition. Whoever Bayern will end up announcing at the end of April for the following campaign will not have comparable pedigree.
Former Bayern midfielder and Eintracht Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac, the likeliest candidate after Thomas Tuchel agreed to go elsewhere, has undoubtedly done a pretty good job at the Commerzbank-Arena. His muscular, commitment-based approach might yet produce some interesting football in the Bavarian capital, too. But the 46-year-old is still an underwhelming solution, borne out of an acute shortage of available star coaches. The prospect of his reign doesn't quite get the pulse racing.
More challenges lie ahead. Bayern are braced for a fight to keep star striker Robert Lewandowski and will have to prepare for life without the two wingers who powered their ascent to the European elite. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben might still be there in 2018-19 but their powers are waning.
The structural problems that come with playing in a league of their own coupled with the probable appointment of coach that was fourth or fifth choice as well as the need to freshen up key sections of the squad increase the pressure to seize the day.
As the present looks much brighter than the future, Bayern arrive in Seville knowing they won't have a better chance to fulfil their European dream anytime soon.