Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria may not have started the match for Real Madrid against Levante, but it mattered little, as Los Blancos cruised to a 5-1 lead.
All three were substituted on in the second half, surely in an effort to give them some rest for a mid-week Champions League return match against Galatasaray.
As you might expect, Real Madrid was in control of the game early. But totally against the run of play, Levante scored the first goal on a counter-attack, as Michel played Pedro Rios down the right side before taking his return pass and slotting home the opening goal.
But Real Madrid answered in spectacular fashion.
Just minutes later, Gonzalo Higuain brilliantly volleyed home the equalizing goal after Xabi Alonso found him in the box with a picture-perfect cross. Expect to see that beauty on SportsCenter's top-10 plays.
Three minutes later, Real Madrid took the lead. After Sergio Ballesteros was called for a handball in the box, Kaka stepped up to take the penalty kick and calmly put Real Madrid up 2-1. In a half that Los Blancos largely dominated, that scoreline more accurately described the action.
As if trying to deal with a Real Madrid side that regained control to close the first half wasn't enough, Levante had to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo, who was brought on in the second for Los Blancos. Not surprisingly, Real Madrid continued its dominance after the half.
For most of the second half, Levante was simply holding on for dear life and hoping to possibly strike on the counter. But with Real Madrid controlling 69 percent of the possession in the game, Levante had barely a moment to take a deep breath after a clearance before Real Madrid organized a new attack.
Eventually, Ronaldo would strike and double the lead. Higuain capped off a nice run down the right side with a blistering centering pass that Ronaldo controlled and smashed past the keeper.
A minute later, Mesut Ozil added a fourth goal for Los Blancos. After Angel Di Maria played a lovely through ball to Ronaldo down the left flank, the Portuguese superstar chipped an easy pass back to Ozil, who had only to nick the ball into a wide-open net.
The scoring wasn't done. Once again, Los Blancos poured toward the net, as Di Maria managed to control the ball in a crowd and send a pass over to Ozil, who calmly notched his second goal of the match.
Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid: A
From beginning to end, he was Real Madrid's top player. His goal was magnificent. His assist to Ronaldo was a wonderful individual effort. He consistently put himself in threatening positions and looked a danger to score. He was fantastic for Los Blancos.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: A
He only played a half, but Real Madrid was a much different team with him in the contest. He scored one goal, assisted on another and forced Levante to focus attention on him every time he was near the ball. Like Ronaldo or not, only Lionel Messi is more dangerous.
Levante Back Line: D+
I know Levante isn't supposed to beat, or even tie, Real Madrid, but anytime you give up five goals in a match, it's a failure of the back line. Christian Lell, Ballesteros, Loukas Vyntra and Juanfran were absolutely skewered by the Real Madrid attackers in this contest.
I know it's hard to hold off Real Madrid when it controls possession for two-thirds of the game, but five goals? That's unacceptable.
Levante's back line doesn't get an "F" simply because it probably prevented another three goals from being scored.
Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid: A
He only played for 15 minutes, but that was plenty of time to score two goals and lead Real Madrid in a blistering final display of offense down the stretch. Kaka played well in the first half for Los Blancos, but the difference in quality when Ozil is on the pitch was clear enough.