Real Madrid put aside distractions from the proposed European Super League with a comprehensive display that powered them to a 3-0 victory over Cadiz at the Estadio Ramon de Carranza.
Both sides came into Wednesday's game on the back of goalless draws, with Cadiz having been held at home by Celta Vigo, while Los Blancos misfired against Getafe.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane made five changes to the side that drew at the Alfonso Perez Stadium. Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Nacho Fernandez and Karim Benzema were drafted back into the starting lineup, while Antonio Blanco made his first start for his boyhood club.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts, but Thibaut Courtois dived low to make a smart save from Jaido Izquierdo.
Real Madrid slowly grew into the game and started dominating proceedings after that.
Vinicius Junior went down in the box from a challenge by Isaac Carcalen. Having initially waved play on, referee Manuel Lahoz changed his decision and awarded a penalty after consultations with the VAR.
Karim Benzema stepped up to dispatch the ensuing penalty with ease and put Real Madrid 1-0 up on the half-hour mark.
Their lead was doubled just three minutes later. Some good work on the left flank by Marcelo and Nacho allowed Benzema to send a pin-point left-footed cross into the area for Alvaro Odriozola to head home for his first La Liga goal.
It was 3-0 with five minutes to go before half-time. Casemiro's chipped cross inside the area saw Benzema get on the end of it to all but assure Real Madrid of victory.
Cadiz manager Alvaro Cerveda made four changes at halftime, having watched his starting team decimated by the capital side.
The significant halftime advantage saw the second half played at a lower tempo, with Real Madrid content to pass the ball around, while the hosts were more interested in not suffering a more embarrassing defeat.
Chances came at a premium, with Rodrygo going closest for the visitors when his shot from the edge of the area sailed narrowly wide.
Up next for Real Madrid will be the visit of Real Betis on Saturday, while Cadiz will square off against relegation-threatened Real Valladolid.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Real Madrid go top of La Liga
Real Madrid are defending champions of La Liga and are well on course to retain their title.
However, if they are to do so, it will be much less straightforward than last term, with this season proving to be one of the most dramatic and nail-biting title races in recent memory.
With six matchdays to go, just five points separate the top four sides in the table, and there is very little margin for error.
Real Madrid saw their ambitions take a hit with last weekend's tame draw with Getafe but got right back on track with a comprehensive display in Andalusia.
Despite not playing at their best, the capital side managed to get the job done, which has been the hallmark of their champions' mentality under Zinedine Zidane's management.
The win sees Los Blancos temporarily move to the top of the table, level on points with Atletico Madrid.
Their stay at the top could be curtailed if their nearest rivals pick up wins in their outstanding games, but Real Madrid got the job done ahead of what is sure to be a frenzied run-in.
#4 The injury room slowly clearing out for Zidane
The last few months have been one to forget for Real Madrid on the injury front, with several key players having been sidelined at the same time.
This has been especially the case in defense, where three of the club's first-choice defenders were all sidelined together. The story was not much different in other areas, and Zidane had to use academy players as fillers on his bench in several games.
However, things have started to look bright for the capital side as Zidane saw the return of three players against Cadiz.
Raphael Varane returned to the starting lineup, having tested positive for COVID-19 some weeks ago, while Nacho and Dani Carvajal also starred for Real Madrid.
With the season approaching its home run end and marquee fixtures coming up in two competitions, Zidane will be pleased with the return of several of his key players.
#3 Casemiro's return helps Real Madrid regain control in midfield
Casemiro has been one of the most important players for Real Madrid in the last few years, and his absence from the team is always glaring.
That much was evident when Los Blancos faltered against Getafe last weekend, with the Brazil international suspended for his red card against Barcelona.
Casemiro returned to the starting lineup against Cadiz. Despite not having regular partners Luka Modric and Toni Kroos alongside him, he stepped up to the plate with an immaculate display.
The 29-year-old provided on-field guidance for midfield partner Antonio Blanco and ended his night with a fine assist for Karim Benzema's second goal.
#2 Zinedine Zidane switches things up with tactical variation
Zinedine Zidane has been one of the most successful coaches of his generation. However, the Real Madrid manager does not get as much acclaim as his achievements deserve.
One of the unfounded criticisms leveled at the Frenchman is his supposed lack of tactical variety and over-reliance on a limited core of players.
However, this is not the case, and Zidane has shown his tactical versatility on several occasions.
He started the game against Cadiz with a three-man defense marshaled by Raphael Varane but switched things up to a four-man defense midway through the second half.
Injuries have also forced Zidane's hands in terms of team selection, but his fringe players stepped up to the plate against Los Piratas.
#1 Five-star Karim Benzema steps up to the plate once again
Karim Benzema was handed a rest in the draw with Getafe last weekend. Without the Frenchman leading the line, Real Madrid flattered to deceive in front of goal.
He was drafted back into the starting lineup against Cadiz and once again proved to be a difference-maker for the La Liga champions.
His ice-cool penalty helped Real Madrid go ahead when they had not exactly been playing at their best. He ended the first half by having a hand in all the goals scored by the visitors.
Benzema provided the assist for Odriozola's goal, in addition to his brace, which took him to 21 league goals. This puts him just two goals behind Lionel Messi in the race for the Pichichi.
It also means that the 33-year-old has scored against all 35 La Liga teams he has faced.