Johannesburg - Formidable Mamelodi Sundowns sent out an early warning to their league crown detractors when they outclassed SuperSport United on Friday, overthrowing their Pretoria neighbours off the Premiership perch.
Sundowns' magnificent 3-1 win placed them in first place shifting United to second, who are suffering a performance slump, as they lost a second successive fixture of the campaign.
With a round of league matches remaining in the year before the extended Christmas break, the Brazilians are showing signs of fluidity, bearing in mind that they topped the standings this time, last season before the wheels fell off after the recess.
"We started well, held a lot of possession. I was surprised they scored first, the first time they came to our goal," said an excited Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens, who was visibly pleased with his side's dominance and adaptation to the Dutchman's offensive-driven philosophy.
"In the second, we started to drop back too much. I was unhappy for about 20 minutes.
"We showed character. I'm pleased with the professionalism. Also, we showed that you have to defend going forward and not backwards, so a big compliment to the players."
His United opposite number, Gavin Hunt, lamented his once-solid backline, while adding that despite their obvious flaws, they still held a strong challenge to the championship.
"To concede like that is really poor but these things happen, we are still right up there," he said.
"I always try to win games in football, there always were opportunities to try and score, but the individual defending at this level...if you can't hold your own ground, it's not right."
On Saturday, Kaizer Chiefs netted twice in the final 25 minutes to earn a 2-1 come-from-behind win over spirited Free State Stars at the FNB Stadium.
Scoring for coach Vladimir Vermezovic's team was mercurial substitute striker S'thembiso Ngcobo and Lincoln Zvesiya, five minutes apart.
"We came back well. Now we have a point difference between the top of the table," Vermezovic said.
"We played too far from our from opponents in the first half. That cost us."
Stars coach Steve Komphela praised his outfit's charged-up display where they held the lead for most of the match through a stunning Edward Manqele strike, and could have sealed it with chances offered before a late Amakhosi revival.
"We did very well, extremely well at the start," said Komphela. "But someone had to take the three points, so well done to Chiefs."
In Cape Town, troubles for Santos - under caretaker coach and club legend, Duncan Crowie - deepened with a 2-1 loss to AmaZulu.
The People's Team are quickly becoming relegation contenders when the season concludes in May.
Maritzburg United handed Jomo Cosmos a 3-1 defeat in Pietermaritzburg, Ajax Cape Town beat Golden Arrows 1-0 in Umlazi, while Platinum Stars and Moroka Swallows played a 0-0 draw in Rustenburg.