By Enis Koylu
Short of an unlikely Champions League triumph, Dortmund's 2012-13 campaign is likely to go down as something of a disappointment as the Bundesliga title is now seemingly out of reach.
But while a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich on Saturday has left the champions with an 11-point deficit to recover if they are to claim a third straight Meisterschale, they have proven once again that they are a match for anyone this season.
The first four months of the current campaign have seen BVB face some of the most daunting teams in world football, and they have shown themselves to be capable of mixing it up with the best of them on each occasion.
|MATCH FACTS | Bayern 1-1 Dortmund
Against Manchester City, at the fortress that is the Etihad Stadium, they were fearless, carving the Premier League champions open time and time again. Across two games against Real Madrid, they limited Jose Mourinho's side to just a handful of chances, and were only denied a famous victory at the Bernabeu by a last-minute free-kick.
And, again, at the Allianz Arena, they were more than a match for Bayern, arguably the best team in Europe so far this season, remaining competitive on every front, despite the hosts' obvious hunger to get one over their rivals.
They were resolute at the back, with Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller putting in fantastic performances. Going forward, they may have been subdued in the first half, but Marco Reus and Mario Gotze struck fear into Bavarian hearts with their neat passing.
It would have been easy to give up, as so many others have done, once they fell behind to Toni Kroos' 67th-minute goal, but they had the belief and self-confidence to fight back and claim a deserved draw, and the late introduction of Julian Schieber showed that they were not willing to settle for a point.
It is no lack of quality that has seen BVB's title challenge slip away within the first four months of the season, it has been their own doing; their failure to put away teams like Hannover, Nurnberg, Hamburg and Stuttgart have led to their unfavourable league position.
Bayern, of course, deserve credit too. All they needed to do was avoid defeat to maintain their stranglehold on the Bundesliga, but they came out of the blocks in formidable fashion, and even after BVB had equalised, they kept on coming, and were denied a late winner only by Weidenfeller's heroics.
And to do it all when facing a team against whom they have had a dreadful record in recent years says a lot about the progress that they have made in recent months.
Barring another spectacular collapse, which seems unlikely, Bayern have this season's title all but wrapped up, but Dortmund will be back - in Jurgen Klopp they have a wonderful young coach, in Reus, Gotze and Hummels, the spine of a team that could be anyone, with each of them tied down for the long term.
There has been no shift of power within Germany over the last of two years; only the resurgence of Dortmund, a credible challenger to Bayern for years to come.