A stylish Barcelona sent a message to Real Madrid, who play Valencia later, that they are ready to fight to keep their La Liga title after cruising to a 4-0 win over Zaragoza.
Real have been setting the pace at the top of the table and opened up a three-point lead before the international break when a lacklustre Barcelona were lucky to draw away to Athletic Bilbao.
But in front of a packed Nou Camp, Barca gave a rendition of attacking football, pressing forward from the start against a Zaragoza side who have only won two games all season.
Barca were finding it difficult to find a cutting edge though until they managed it in a way not associated with Barcas passing football, as Gerard Pique headed home a Xavi Hernandez free-kick.
Lionel Messi was a doubt until the last minute following a draining trip to play for Argentina but he was given the nod to play and was at his tantalising best.
He should have scored when he tried a flamboyant finish in front of the keeper instead of making sure but he made no mistake two minutes before half time as he slotted in clinically.
After the break Zaragoza caused fleeting moments of danger on the counter-attack but Barca were never really in danger and Carlos Puyol knocked in a scrappy third while David Villa completed a comprehensive win with a header 15 minutes from the end.
Real Madrids championship credentials will be put to the test later against a Valencia side back on track following four straight wins.
Cristiano Ronaldo is confident that if they can maintain their impressive form, which has seen them win their last ten matches, that they can knock Barcelona off their perch.
Ronaldo himself is on a hot streak having scored five goals in his last two games for Real as well as a further two in his last match for Portugal.
"Im playing some of my best football ever and I want to continue like this. Maybe this is the best Madrid side that I have been in but the key is to win and if we dont do that then we are not the best. I want to win something this season and Real Madrid are aiming for the three titles," he said.
"It is going to be a difficult game against Valencia. Last season we scored six goals there but this time it is going to be different. Valencia are better and we are going to have to play very well to win the three points."
A Borja Valero strike gave injury-plagued Villarreal a 1-0 victory over Real Betis whose slump continues and they have now won just once in seven games.
Villarreal have been a regular in Europe in recent seasons but this was just their third victory of a campaign which has been spoilt by injury and they started against Betis without six players including their strike pair of Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi.
Valero gave them the lead from a counter-attack with a delightful chip over the keeper after 20 minutes.
Betis fought back and Villarreal had keeper Diego Lopez to thank as he denied Ruben Castro and Iriney Santos while Jorge Molina fired wide inside the box.
There were chances at either end after the break with Villarreal going closest to a second when a Bruno Soriano header was clawed away by the keeper.
The result means that Betis have now picked up just one point since winning their opening four matches.