Bayern Munich, chasing an unprecedented seventh league title on the spin, went to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday after easily brushing Stuttgart aside 3-0 in the Southern derby, courtesy of goals from free transfer signings Leon Goretzka and Robert Lewandowski, before Thomas Muller added a third.
Buoyed by Goretzka's goal on his full debut, Bayern comfortably avenged their biggest defeat of last season and have now won 10 in a row at once-feared foe Stuttgart to notch a new club record.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- In his first away league game in charge of the record German champions, Kovac made three changes, including bringing the impressive Goretzka into the starting lineup. He's won every game of his tenure so far with a goal difference of 12-1.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Manuel Neuer, 7 -- Didn't have a save to make on his first away Bundesliga outing since last September.
DF David Alaba, 7 -- Rattled the base of the post just after the restart with a trademark left-footed free kick in a game in which he had little defending to do.
DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- Didn't feature in the opener against Hoffenheim, but back to bolster central defence as Kovac's rotation plans kicked in. Hummels twice tested Ron-Robert Zieler with powerful headers either side of the break and was always a threat from set pieces.
DF Jerome Boateng, 7 -- Put in a professional performance after seeing his hopes of a move to Paris Saint-Germain dashed, and before kickoff sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic accused the Ligue 1 side of "strange tactics" during transfer negotiations.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 8 -- His exquisite delivery from corners and set pieces make him invaluable, and he almost scored in the final minute against the club where he learned his trade.
MF Leon Goretzka, 9 -- The free transfer signing from Schalke crowned his first Bundesliga start for Bayern with the opening goal, using his quick feet to collect a pass from Muller and slot a composed finish past the helpless Zieler. He soon went close to doubling his tally with good chances either side of the break. He turned provider with the assist for Lewandowski, the man he can rival as best Bayern's free transfer signing.
MF Thiago, 8 -- The silky Spaniard was at his inventive best running the show from a deeper midfield role.
MF Franck Ribery, 6 -- The 35-year-old veteran celebrated his 250th Bundesliga appearance with a mixed bag, overhit crosses and heavy touches coupled with some deft passes into danger areas against limited opponents.
MF Arjen Robben, 6 -- Much like his wing partner Ribery, Robben enjoyed a quiet evening by his standards and went straight down the tunnel after he was hooked off.
MF Thomas Muller, 7 -- After laying on the opener for Goretzka, Bayern's vice-captain volleyed narrowly over shortly before the break. He got the reward for his industry with the final goal of the evening, clinically taking advantage of a nice flick from Lewandowski.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 7 -- Spent most of the first half complaining about heavy tackling from his marker, but kept his cool to double the lead on the hour with a typically composed finish past Zieler, keeping up his record of scoring in every game under Kovac. Not just that, Lewandowski has now scored in the first two Bundesliga games in four straight seasons. He too turned provider with a cute back-heel assist into the path of Muller for the third.
MF Serge Gnabry, N/R -- Enjoyed a low-key competitive debut coming on for Robben with the three points in the bag.
MF James Rodriguez, N/R -- The Colombia star came on for Ribery and still had time to blaze high and wide into Row Z of the grandstand and miss another gilt-edged chance.
MF Corentin Tolisso, N/R -- Didn't feature in the opener against Hoffenheim but played his first competitive minutes of the season after an extended World Cup-winning break.