For over a month, Dortmund have looked to be at their breaking point. They exceeded their physical limit on Saturday.
Gone was the team with limitless energy and scintillating pace, whose collective fitness was the envy of Europe. Dortmund looked weak; physically and mentally drained. Such situations often make injuries more common, and surely enough Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin were forced off in the second half, each having suffered a blow to the ankle. From the looks of it, both will be sidelined until the winter break.
Bender and Sahin join Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, and Marcel Schmelzer on the injury list, but that only tells half the story. Those few players who are officially "fit" to play are in many cases not even close to full fitness. Marco Reus was supposed to miss Saturday's match with a calf injury, but was forced to come on following Bender's injury. He, like Sahin, has played a tremendous number of minutes this season and has looked increasingly fatigued. The likes of Manuel Friedrich and Lukasz Piszczek have barely played since May and are similarly unfit.
Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of Dortmund's defeat is how the entire team looked frustrated and disillusioned as full-time approached. Gone was the belief and determination that saw them score two late goals in Malaga earlier this year. They fell theatrically, looking for fouls, and frustration boiled over more than once. In the case of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, it was enough to earn him a red card and a suspension the team certainly does not need at this point.
It will all be over soon enough; winter is only three games away. BVB will finish in the top four, and most likely the top three in the Bundesliga regardless of the results of their final two fixtures of the fall campaign. But their midweek Champions League clash with Marseille will be something of a final.
Follow Clark Whitney on Twitter