Two quick-fire Luis Suarez strikes before the quarter hour set the tone for what was to follow—a Blaugrana masterclass in passing, movement and finishing. Particularly in the first 45 minutes.
The Spanish Cup had given Neville and the club some respite from the pressures of league combat to this point, but his side were handed a lesson by a team that are widely regarded as the world's best.
On this form you'd be hard pressed to disagree.
Indeed, it would be entirely wrong to suggest that the win was handed to Barca on a plate by a team that are woefully out of form. The Catalans were full value in what was one of their best performances for some time.
A win that puts them within two games of setting a new all-time club record of unbeaten matches. Pep Guardiola's vintage currently hold the mark with 28 games which the current side will equal at the weekend.
In each of the last five games between the sides, Barca have scored at least four and should they continue to run riot, you'd have to feel for Levante.
The gulf in class against Valencia was frankly embarrassing at times, but perhaps it's still worth sounding a couple of notes of caution in advance of the second leg.
Denis Cheryshev, a second-half substitute who was given a hero's welcome at the Camp Nou when he took to the field, was unlucky to be flagged offside when sliding the ball home.
Cheryshev in the Copa del Rey: suspended from his last game vs Barcelona last year. Got Real Madrid ko’d this yr. Lost 7-0 on VAL debut.— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) February 3, 2016
It may only have been a consolation, but it would've been one which laid bare Barca's defensive deficiencies again when the back four are not fully concentrated—against 10 men, let's not forget.
Such an impressive final score is likely to ensure safe passage to the final, but arguably Luis Enrique won't want his team to take his foot off of the gas in the second leg. Whoever pulls on the Blaugrana will be expected to give of their best.
7-0....St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes but even he would have problem`s turning Gary Neville`s mess around!— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson) February 3, 2016
Those minor matters aside, the standard of this performance evidenced an XI totally in sync with each other from front to back. It was exhibition stuff at times.
Last time two Barcelona players scored hattricks in the same match in the Spanish Cup since Samitier and Alcantara! Ode to two club legends.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) February 3, 2016
Importantly, the high level of intensity—even at 5-0 up—should serve as an example to all. To exhibit such hunger and desire hints at just how seriously Barca take the successful retention of this trophy.
It was seven in the end, but with the woodwork rattled twice and numerous other half-chances missed, the final score could've been so much worse for Neville and Co.
What such a result does is allow Enrique the luxury of rotation of his staff, something that he was castigated for at times during the last campaign.
By the end of February, Barca will have played a brutal 17 games since the turn of the year. At one of the most crucial stages of the season, Lucho will be able to rest whom he wishes for the best part of 180 minutes.
In some respects, that can be viewed as a reward for such a professional and polished performance from a team that continue to raise the bar as to what is possible on a football pitch.