It was an action-packed affair at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night, as bitter rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona went head-to-head in the first-leg of the Spanish Supercopa, and despite the hosts dominating much of the contest, the sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.
With first-choice centre-back pairing Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique both sidelined, the visitors were forced to play with the unfamiliar team of Eric Abidal and Javier Mascherano at the heart of defence.
Additionally, Thiago Alcantara was given a place in the starting line-up in lieu of Xavi, while new signing Alexis Sanchez was given a baptism of fire against the Catalans' Clasico rivals. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho opted to use the exact same team that lost 5-0 at Camp Nou last season.
The hosts got the heated affair underway, and very quickly it looked as though Madrid were the hungrier of the teams for victory. Cristiano Ronaldo, looking fitter than ever, shot off down the left flank, finding himself enough space to weight a beautiful cross for Karim Benzema. The Frenchman's connection was weak, however, allowing Victor Valdes to make an important save.
Mourinho's men continued to control the tempo of the game, and their domination of possession would soon pay off. After just 13 minutes, Benzema, eagerly getting himself involved again, strode towards goal, picking up markers as he went.
Carefully watching the former Marselle man's run, Ozil found himself space in the box, allowing Benzema to provide the German with the assist that would open up the game. Finishing from close range, Masut Ozil neatly put the ball low and hard past Valdes to give the hosts a well earned lead.
As Barca struggled to get out of their own half, centre-forward Lionel Messi dropped deeper to get his first few touches of the ball – touches that would soon prove pivotal.
Picking the ball up just past the half-way line, the Argentine pinged forward a perfectly weighted through-ball for David Villa, who was surging down the left. Executing a neat cut-back, Villa turned and skipped inside before curling a world-class effort around Iker Casillas to restore parity for the Catalans.
Having seen their opponents score completely against the run of play, Madrid moved to continue with their dominance of the game. Eager to restore their advantage, Ronaldo played in Karim Benzema not once, but twice, with defence-splitting passes that really should have ended in goals for the hosts. However, Benzema's initial touches were too heavy, and the chances passed him by.
Just before half-time, more good work down the left from Ronaldo almost saw the Portuguese luminary score one of his own as Madrid continued to boss, but Barca would soon vocalise their retort for a second time – this time through Messi.
In one of the few attacks that saw Barcelona in Madrid's final third, Messi shook off no less than three markers before finding himself half a yard to shoot low and hard past Casillas, putting the visitors in the driving seat going into half-time.
As the teams began the second half, it would be the Spanish champions who looked the sharper of the two sides, perhaps buoyed by their goal advantage, but the new-found enthusiasm wouldn't last long.
Barging their way back into the game, Madrid earned themselves a corner five minutes into the second session. Ozil whipped the ball in at the front post, and it was Pepe who would tee-up goalscorer Xabi Alonso to strike from the edge of the box. Finishing with great power through a sea of bodies, the Spain international brought the game back to level pegging.
Soon after, perhaps eager to add a little more experience and steel to the side, Guardiola then hooked Thiago and Adriano, who made way for midfield maestro Xavi and first-choice centre-back Gerard Pique.
However, Madrid's monopolising of possession continued, leading to a selection of golden chances for the capital side. Jose Callejon watched as his assist for Ronaldo sailed over the bar following a volley, while Ozil looked on as his cross for Benzema was one again met with a tame header. For all their dominance, Madrid couldn't seem to capitalise on their chances.
Ronaldo then found himself as something of a symbol of Madrid's overall performance, as he first saw an edge-of-the-box effort saved by Valdes, before uncharacteristically miscontrolling the ball during a counter-attacking run that could well have otherwise resulted in a win for the home side.
With the match characterised, the remaining minutes petered out without any real clear-cut chances from either side, both teams clearly happy to accept what seemed to be inevitable. Jose Mourinho will be unhappy that his men don't have the advantage, but will undoubtedly be aiming to finish the job in the second leg.