Real Madrid were flying heading into the winter break. 22 wins in all competitions was an incredible way to finish 2014, leaving Los Blancos and just two away from equalling Coritiba's world record set in 2011.
Every press conference the same question was asked and whilst the party line was that any record was of less significance than actually getting points or wins required, the truth was completely different.
After having been so insistent that the Club World Cup was high on their agenda, Real, and particularly Cristiano Ronaldo, wanted to write their names into the history books once more.
World record bid over
A needless sponsor-led friendly in Dubai saw Los Blancos first defeat since Atletico turned them over earlier in the season, yet the record still stood as it applied to "competitive" games.
Just a few days later the record bid would disappear completely as a lacklustre Real succumbed to a magnificent team performance by Valencia. Just a solitary injury-time defeat to Barcelona remained Los Che's only blot on a copybook at home. Well and truly Fortress Mestalla.
What was noticeable in the game was the bursts of pace that Real base much of their game upon was missing from Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Toni Kroos was marked out of the game and without his influence to dictate the tempo, Carlo Ancelotti's charges looked almost human.
Gruelling Copa Del Rey
After such a weary exercise in Valencia, Real could've done without a gruelling Copa Del Rey tie at the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico Madrid are beginning to pull together on all fronts again and on his third anniversary as manager of the Rojiblancos, Diego Simeone once again masterminded a win against their cross-town rivals.
Fernando Torres' arrival had sparked a surge of optimism in the red and white half of the city and although Torres himself had a second debut to forget, his presence ensured a bouncing Calderon and the requisite intimidatory atmosphere.
Without taking anything away from Atleti's performance, Real were poor.
Just 13 touches for Ronaldo
Ronaldo only had 13 touches in the entire 90 minutes and looked completely out of sorts in the game.
There was again a lethargy to Real's general play.
At 2-0 down in the tie it's hard to see a way back for Real, but Carlo Ancelotti will want his side to be competitive at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Question is, do they have anything left in the tank?
That has to be a worry at such an early stage of the second half of the season.