Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed an "almost perfect" first half by his side after Sevilla were blown away 3-0 in Wednesday's Copa del Rey last 16 first leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid kicked off without the rested Cristiano Ronaldo, but were ahead inside 10 minutes when the recalled James Rodriguez swept a 20-yard low shot to the net. By the half-hour mark Raphael Varane made it 2-0 when he headed in Toni Kroos' corner as the recently crowned world champions put on a show in their first game of 2017.
Vicente Iborra and Vitolo missed excellent chances to pull one back for Sevilla, before James made it 3-0 before the break by rolling in the penalty after referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz saw a push in the area.
The second half was less eventful, but Madrid saw out the game to mark Zidane's one year anniversary in charge with their 38th game unbeaten in all competitions -- and leave the tie all but closed ahead of next Thursday's return game at Sevilla's Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan.
"I don't know if it was the best half of the season, but it was 45 very good minutes," Zidane told the postgame news conference. "We began very strong, with intensity, as we had prepared. For a first game back from holidays it was very very good. The first 45 minutes were spectacular -- physically and technically, we played an almost perfect game.
"Sevilla are a very good team, had been playing very well, and were confident. So to play a game like that gives you even more satisfaction. Although we know there is still a second leg to come, we are not through yet."
James finished last year talking about potentially leaving Madrid to get more playing time elsewhere, but began 2017 by responding to being given a start by his coach.
"James did very well, played a good game," Zidane said. "He scored two goals, and worked hard, as they all did. I am very happy for his game, and for all the players. We were enormous in defence too, as keeping a clean sheet in a first leg is always very important."
With Karim Benzema spending the 90 minutes on the bench, and Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale out injured, Zidane gave opportunities to less high-profile players such as Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio.
"I talk with all of them to let them know they are all important," Zidane said. "We cannot win with just three or four players. Cristiano always makes the difference, but in the end we will need everyone to win everything we want. This season will be long, we have 20 games now in 60 days. The whole dressing room is happy when people come in and do well."
Madrid can now match the all-time Spanish record for unbeaten games if they avoid defeat at home to struggling Granada at the Bernabeu on Saturday lunchtime.
"We did not talk much about [the record]," Zidane admitted. "We just prepare for each game to try and win it."
Ronaldo will be back for that game, Zidane assured reporters.
"I will not give Cristiano a rest [on Saturday]," he said. "He will be there. And he will play many games. There is no need to be worried."
Brazilian enforcer Casemiro cautioned his teammates the tie was far from over against Sevilla with Madrid travelling to Andalusia next week for the return leg.
He said on a local TV station: "It was a good performance, one of the best of the year but there is still a long way to go.
"The tie is not over, not at all. There is still a long way to go and we have the most difficult thing yet to come -- to play in Sevilla.
"We know that when wearing the Real Madrid shirt we have to give everything on the pitch all year round, not just in January.''