Coming off mid-week international friendlies and ahead of European games next week, many of the big clubs rotated players. The result was a flood of goals and setbacks for the league leaders against local rivals.
In Nuremberg, Bayern Munich chose to rest captain Philipp Lahm as well as Holger Badstuber. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were both out injured, meaning that squad players like Rafinha, Xherdan Shaqiri and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk got a run-out.
Initially it didn't seem to make a difference. In only the third minute Javier Pinola lost track of Toni Kroos. He found Mario Mandzukic, who netted an easy one.
Bayern had yet to concede a goal away this season and may have reasoned that their slim advantage would be enough. In any case, they took their foot off the gas, and Nuremberg looked harmless. The score at half-time was 1-0.
But immediately after the restart Nuremberg equalized and ended Bayern's clean sheet away record. Markus Feulner blasted one in from 30 meters out immediately after the restart. And Timo Gebhart should have added another for Nuremberg a few minutes later but failed to control the ball alone in front of goal.
Bayern had let their opponents back in the match and were forced to interrupt the rest of 40-million man Javi Martinez and Lahm in an attempt to turn the game back in their favor. But it was Nuremberg with the better chances for most of the second half.
The hosts did make their task more difficult when Gebhart was sent off with ten minutes left. But they held on to book a 1-1 draw.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was left blaming the referees.
"It's not easy when you're always being kicked," the midfielder griped to reporters after the match. "It wasn't any fun."
But the dropped points were down just as much to Bayern's overconfidence as to Nuremberg's physical play.
"You simply can't win all your games," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, ahead of his team's crucial Champions League clash at Spain's Valencia for control of Group F on Tuesday. "It's not the end of the world."
Shock for Schalke
In Saturday's late game, neither Leverkusen nor Schalke could get going initially. Yet just when it looked like the teams would head scoreless into the dressing rooms, André Schürrle smashed one in from distance on a counter-attack.
Schalke had much more possession in the second half, but they failed to do anything with it. Instead it was Stefan Kiessling beating two Schalke defenders in minute 65 to double the hosts’ lead. It should have 3-0 ten minutes from time after Schürrle drew a penalty. But Kiessling hit the ball straight at Schalke keeper Lars Unnerstall.
Defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos was then sent off to complete a miserable day for Schalke, who stay second in the table, but have fallen eight points behind Bayern. Leverkusen hold steady in fifth – only two points behind Schalke.
It was a shock defeat for Schalke, just four days before their Champions League duel against Olympiakos Piraeus on Wednesday.
"We made a lot of mistakes in our build-up play and we were punished mercilessly," said Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes. "It's bitter."
Schalke's trainer Huub Stevens reacted angrily. "I could have taken nine players off the pitch," he said.
Götze gets back on track
Against Greuther Fürth, Dortmund also had a superstar on the bench: Marco Reus, one of the few players to impress in Germany's deadly dull friendly versus the Netherlands on Wednesday.
And in Dortmund, too, the favorites led after three minutes. Robert Lewandowski did the honors.
But the reigning champs' defense is by no means as stingy as Bayern's this year. Two minutes later, Zoltan Stieber was put through. He chipped Roman Weidenfeller to level the score for the visitors.
Lewandowski restored Dortmund's advantage with a penalty in minute 15. The hosts were the more attack-minded team and dominated possession, but Fürth were giving it a go. They were unlucky only to hit the post, for example, in minute 38.
Four minutes later, Mario Götze broke Fürth's will with a weaving, Maradona-like run through the back four and around the keeper. It was goal that reminded fans of why Götze is one of the hottest young properties in European football.
The second hold was one long holding pattern, as Dortmund were content with the 3-1 win. That result takes Dortmund to within nine points of Bayern and only one behind third-placed Frankfurt.
Record-setting first half
There were goals almost everywhere in the Bundesliga, six in the first eight minutes of play and 12 in total in the first half. That set a new Bundesliga record.
Frankfurt got off to a running start against cellar dwellers Augsburg. The hosts went up in minute 7 thanks to an own goal by Sascha Mölders. Stefan Aigner doubled Frankfurt's advantage before Ja-Chael Koo through the visitors a lifeline just before the half.
But Frankfurt were simply too quick for Augsburg, and Alex Meier restored the hosts' two-goal advantage in minute 52. Mölders made up for his earlier boo-boo with a goal, but 15 minutes from the end, Meier sealed the win by converting a penalty after a hand-ball in the box. 4-2 was the final score.
In Mönchengladbach, Martin Stranzl and Martin Harnik traded goals within sixty seconds for the hosts and visitors Stuttgart respectively. Gladbach's Roul Brouwers broke the stalemate with an acrobatic own goal in minute 70, and Stuttgart went home with a 2-1 victory.
Hannover looked strangely flat against Freiburg, and the visitors made them pay in minute 11. Jonathan Schmid staked Freiburg to a deserved lead. Moa Abdellaoue knotted things on a penalty, but ex-Hanover midfielder Jan Rosenthal restored Freiburg's advantage in the second half. Freiburg become one of the few teams to beat Hannover at home, and they were better than the 2-1 margin.
Only Hamburg versus Mainz remained goalless in the first half. On the hour mark Heung-Min Song opened the scoring for the hosts with a controversial goal since the assist came from what looked like an offside position. And that was all she wrote as the match ended 1-0.
On Sunday, Bremen take on Düsseldorf, and Hoffenheim meet Wolfsburg.