This season's Barcelona is built on firm foundations. After 27 rounds of the Primera Division, the Blaugrana have conceded only 13 goals so far – a mark that is up there with their best-ever defensive stats at this stage.
There were concerns back in August as Barca shipped five goals in the Spanish Supercopa series home and away against Real Madrid, but coach Ernesto Valverde has shaped his side since to give very little away – and they remain unbeaten in La Liga.
Last Saturday's all-important 1-0 win over Atletico at Camp Nou was the latest example of how Barca can defend these days, the Catalans winning out thanks to Lionel Messi's free-kick and yet another clean sheet at the other end.
It is nothing new and the 13 goals let in after 27 games matches their best-ever records at this stage, achieved in 1972-73, 1986-87 and 2010-11. Never, however, have they conceded fewer than that at this point.
Barca went on to come second to Atletico in 1972-73, letting in 21 goals in their 34 games. They also finished as runners-up in 1986-87, losing out by a point to Real Madrid and conceding 22 in 34. And in 2010-11, the Catalans did claim the title as Pep Guardiola's side received 21 goals in 38 matches.
Luis Enrique's treble winners of 2014-15 also conceded just 21 times in their run to the title and Valverde's side can improve that mark by letting in fewer than eight goals in their remaining 11 Liga fixtures.
The former Athletic Club coach has tightened things up in midfield in a 4-4-2 formation that has made Barca a little less spectacular in attack, but more effective as a unit. This time last season, the Catalans had conceded 23 times in La Liga – 10 more than now.
Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti have formed a fantastic partnership, while Jordi Alba has rediscovered his best form after ending on somewhat bad terms with Luis Enrique and Sergi Roberto received high praise this week from Lionel Messi, who described him as "one of the best full-backs in the world".
In the middle Sergio Busquets and Paulinho have helped to bring balance to this team, along with Ivan Rakitic who is perhaps the most-improved player under Valverde.
"He is a player who gives absolute equilibrium to the team," the Barca boss said recently. "He gives us balance, both in attack and in defence. He has everything."
Overall, Valverde is happy with his side's progress, but warned last week: "We can't stay still. We have to keep on moving forward and getting better." He wants more and that, for Barca's rivals, means less.
Statistically, this defence is already up there with Barca's best ever. Great teams are always built on a solid back line and now, the target for Valverde's side is not only to win La Liga, but to go down in history by ending the campaign unbeaten. With the defence on this form, they have every chance.