Just like old times. Saturday night at the Sánchez Pizjuán and Sevilla rolled back the years and rolled over Real Madrid. They hadn't even finished singing the Arrebato when they started cheering the opening goal. And this opener was a real opener. Bang. A statement of intent, a fist on the desk and a boot through the ball. A corner dropped directly on to where they had marked out that X, eight yards out, dead centre; Piotr Trochowski steaming in; a half-volley and up it went.
Iker Casillas had already made two saves; rocking back on his heels, he could not save this one. It was in the net – the top, not the back – before he could move. It was still the first minute and Sevilla were 1-0 up. It had all happened so fast and it did all happen so fast. It was intense and aggressive, almost breathless.
The noise from the stands seemed to flow right through them, every drum beat and cymbal crash another challenge or another shot, like a trailer. The energy rolled down the ground and up the pitch. Sevilla's coach talked about the "symbiosis" between fans and footballers. Players were flying into challenges and flying out of them again, tumbling and snarling.
They were nasty and cheaty at times – Álvaro Negredo and Fernando Navarro are specialists, although it was Madrid's players' hitting out – but mostly they were just relentless. Relentless and fast. "The goal was great," beamed Trochowski, "but the brilliant match was even better." There was no Beast , no Luís Fabiano and no Renato, no Pablo Alfaro sticking his fingers where he shouldn't and no Javi Navarro maiming opponents; no Dani Alves impersonating Sonic the Hedgehog or Freddie Kanouté, gliding past while all around him people lose their heads.
There's still no truly creative midfielder. And let's face it, there will never again be a title challenge like in 2007, the year they should have won the league and might have done had they not won the Copa del Rey and the Uefa Cup. But there was Jesús Navas, still the tiny impossibly fast kid in every school team, and for one night only Sevilla were Sevilla. One night only? That is the question now. Saturday night: a one-off or a new start? Discuss.
Once upon a time, Madrid hated going to the Sánchez Pizjuán. A tough, aggressive team awaited: one where the match-day delegate warned the young players that if he caught them asking to swap shirts with a Madrid player before the game would take the shirt from them and burn it. But those days seemed to have gone.
In each of the past two seasons Madrid won 6-2 in Seville. The last time Sevilla beat them it was 2-1 early in 2009-2010 but it was a false dawn. Manolo Jiménez, the coach, was sacked within five months. Antonio Alvarez followed him and didn't last long but did, said the critics, last too long. He was replaced by Gregorio Manzano and things briefly looked up, but he too was sacked.
And the man that followed him, Míchel, was … well, Míchel. If Sevilla had built a reputation on aggression and pace and character, Míchel had built his on finesse; if they were rugged, he was smooth. Somehow, he just didn't quite fit. That, at least, was the way that many fans saw it.
It didn't help that he played out his career at Real Madrid. Or that coming into this match, he had never coached a team to victory against José Mourinho. Besides, there were deeper problems. A win over Madrid may have been just two years ago, but genuinely competing felt like a lifetime back. The sporting director Monchi's magic touch seemed to have deserted him. The man who made almost €60m profit on Alves and Baptista, signed Tom de Mul and Abdoulay Konko for eight times what the two Brazilians cost.
That generation had gone: Kanouté departed this summer, possibly the best signing in the club's history, bringing an era to a close. It was not coming back either. Andrés Palop is still around but he's not what he was. Sevilla's squad just did not seem that impressive any more. The good players – Negredo, Rakitic, Perotti, Medel – could not find consistency.
José Antonio Reyes came back and was the Reyes other clubs had had, not the Reyes Sevilla once sold. Last season, Sevilla finished ninth. The season before that they were fifth but finished 38 behind Barcelona and from week three were never in a Champions League place. They also were not much fun to watch.
Even the connection between fans and club appeared to have been undermined: on Saturday night, the Pizjuán wasn't full. Míchel talked about a "atmosphere of pessimism". But this time Sevilla got it right and next time maybe it will fill. Nothing is as cathartic or contagious as a win over Madrid. Three men packed the middle of midfield, Maduro and Medel behind Rakitic, while Trochowski played narrow on the left.
Up front, Negredo was the target. And on the right, Navas actually had a partner, a full-back who would race up the wing with him. Alex Sandro Mendonça dos Santos, "Cicinho", is not Dani Alves. But more importantly nor is he Konko, Mosquera, Stankevicious, or Dabo. He is the first Brazilian Monchi has signed since Luís Fabiano in 2005.
Sevilla got the opener and made chances to add to it. The more Real Madrid pushed, the more Mourinho threw on attackers, the more Navas was released, sprinting up the right, legs whirring. And although Madrid hit the post twice and Sergio Ramos somehow headed over from a yard, that makes it sound like they had far more opportunities than they really did. Sevilla deserved to hold on for a 1-0 win.
It may be a one-off. Manzano, Alvarez and Jiménez all saw their side produce excellent performances that seemed to rekindle something of that Sevilla and the problem will come not so much against sides that open up and offer Sevilla space to play directly, seeking to play off Negredo and to release Navas, as against teams that are happy with a draw, in those games where they have to be more creative. But Míchel was entitled to feel satisfied.
This morning Sevilla are fourth. "Playing like this," Navas added, as Sergio Ramos headed towards Madrid's team bus, pausing to plant a kiss on his cheek, "it's going to be very hard to beat us."
"This invites optimism," the coach said. "Tonight was a perfect night and one we needed: we played very well and got the fans back on board." "This is," he said, "more about our success than Madrid's defeat." Only it's not. It never is.
"What are they playing at?" asked the cover of Marca. The answer is simple: nothing. There was little football, few chances and fewer ideas. Real Madrid were as poor, Mourinho noted, as they had been against Getafe and Granada and, even during moments, against Valencia. They have picked up just four points from the opening four games and have lost their first three competitive games away from home for the first time in their history.
It's not just that they're not even second, it's that they're not even second in Madrid. Both Atlético and Rayo are above them. And they already trail Barcelona by eight points. Yes, it's early, but they have never overcome an eight-point deficit to Barcelona in the league and they only dropped 12 points in the whole of last season. The week before the game was marked by the attention surrounding Ronaldo's announcement that he is "sad" – after Saturday's game Madrid director Emilio Butragueño would not deny that Ronaldo has asked to leave – and Mourinho admitted that it was not so much that Barcelona have an eight-point lead that worries him as the fact that Madrid are simply not playing well.
Asked why he thought Madrid had performed so badly in the first half, he responded: "Only the first half? You're too kind." He continued: "I made two changes at half-time; I could have made seven. There are very few whose heads are focused on football."
Mourinho ended his press conference by delivering the killer blow: "Right now," he said, "I do not have a team."
Results and talking points
Malaga 3-1 Levante
Valencia 2-1 Celta
Getafe 1 -4 Barcelona
Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid
Espanyol 3-3 Athletic Bilbao
Granada 1-1 Deportivo
Osasuna 1-1 Mallorca
Real Sociedad 2-0 Zaragoza
Atlético 4-3 Rayo
Monday: Valladolid v Betis.
Welcome back Fernando
You wanted to leave. And you still do. When they realised that, your fans wanted you to leave too. Well, some of them did. Some of them have thrown abuse your way. Worse, they have called you a Spaniard. There has been graffiti against you sprayed across the windows of the club shop. The manager has not included you in a single squad yet the club wouldn't let you go. They're pointing at your buyout clause. But you'll go anyway.
In January, you'll be free to negotiate with whomever you want and in July you'll walk for nothing. It's week four and you finally get included in the squad. In the second half you even get thrown on, with your team struggling. So what do you do? You score with your first touch, of course.
Welcome back, Fernando Llorente. Mallorca defender Nunes and Osasuna striker Llorente were sent off during their draw on Sunday. In the same move. For simultaneously trying to assault each other, using the rough proximity of the ball to throw an elbow and a fist respectively.
Javier Saviola: golazo! Leo Messi was left on the bench for Barcelona's trip to Getafe. But still scored twice. He now has six league goals, 61 in 2012. His best total yet. And it's only September. There was a goal too for the returning David Villa. The bad news for Barcelona is that Carles Puyol will be out for four to six weeks with a knee injury, meaning that he will miss the clásico in October. 4-0 up with nine minutes to go, Atlético Madrid had to hold on for a narrow 4-3 victory. "We lost because of what we did for 70 minutes," admitted Rayo Vallecano's manager Paco Jémez, "and we almost drew because of what we did in seven." Falcao only scored one.