Real Madrid have had much to contend with during this close season.
Precisely a year ago, they were basking in the afterglow of a Champions League victory, and signed James Rodriguez on the back of that and the players' high-quality performances at the 2014 World Cup.
Carlo Ancelotti had brought home La Decima and life was good.
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12 months later and Rafael Benitez is at the helm, and aside from preparing a side to play in the manner that he prefers – vastly different from his predecessor – the Spaniard has had to deal with incessant rumours about Sergio Ramos' future, the departure of Iker Casillas and the “will he won't he” transfer saga of David de Gea.
Hardly ideal preparations.
Not that you would know there was any upheaval however, given how well Real have begun their pre-season campaign.
AS Roma 0-0
After a long journey to Melbourne, Australia it wasn't perhaps a surprise that Real and their Italian opponents played out a goalless draw.
Chances were few and far between, as players from both sides struggled to adapt to both the time difference and the conditions.
Benitez would still have been happy with what he saw given that it was the first competitive 90 minutes of the pre-season campaign.
And it gave them a platform to take into the next match against Manchester City.
Manchester City 4-1
Ex-Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini will have been shocked at just how easily his old side sliced through his current one, peppering Joe Hart's goal at will.
Not long after new signing Fabian Delph was replaced, Karim Benzema volleyed Los Blancos ahead, and it wasn't long before Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe had added two more.
Yaya Toure's goal in first half stoppage time looked like no more than a consolation even at that early stage, and so it proved.
City were toothless in attack and with Real able to take their foot off of the pedal, Benitez took no chances.
Denis Cheryshev added some gloss to the scoreline in a fine all-round performance.
Inter Milan 3-0
Having secured the Australian leg of the International Champions Cup, a trip to China and a date with Inter Milan followed.
To say the second win in two games was straightforward is an understatement.
Inter offered nothing throughout and the only surprise was that the scoreline remained at three.
Perhaps the heat and humidity in Guangzhou had something to do with the lackluster Nerazzuri performance.
It took half an hour before Jese Rodriguez made the breakthrough and almost the same again before Raphael Varane made the game safe just before the hour mark.
James Rodriguez made his first appearance of pre-season with 10 minutes left and provided the moment of the tour so far when he curled in an absolute beauty of a free kick into the top corner.
Three games, no losses and no injury concerns. Benitez has to be happy with that.
AC Milan are up next and the all whites will be looking to continue their excellent run against Inter's cross-city rivals.
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