Dortmund, Germany – Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp admitted his club has things to work on at this stage, especially with points dropped in three of its first five Bundesliga matches.
Although the two-time defending league champions "are lacking," Klopp admitted this week, "we are lacking only a bit."
Dortmund had its 31-match league unbeaten streak ended with a 3-2 loss against Hamburg two games ago, and saw a two-goal lead evaporate in a 3-3 draw against Eintracht last week for its second draw.
Klopp believed it was critical to learn from the early mistakes, and the squad has plenty of time to follow last season's blueprint in its quest for a third straight crown.
Dortmund began last season with three losses and a tie in its first six games, but went unbeaten in the final 28 matches of the season to accumulate a record haul of 81 points.
With local rival Monchengladbach, also off to a poor start, visiting this week at Signal Iduna Park, it will be a key match for both clubs.
"There are distinct phases in the development of a football team," Klopp said. "There's no chance for development if you are not ready to accept setbacks."
Dortmund has not been its typical dominant self in Bundesliga play, but former Gladbach star Marco Reus is still settling in from his summer switch.
Reus believed Dortmund would settle in soon, but the club has to stay cautious with Bayern Munich already seven points clear with five wins from five games.
"The media may have a different perspective on this than we do. The big plus of our team is that we talk about our mistakes, and how to correct them," Reus said.
Reus helped Gladbach finish fourth last season, but he was one of the players who departed. Even without its old star, Gladbach has just one loss, but three draws and one win leave it nine points off the pace already.
Dortmund has the edge in the Borussia derby at home, but Gladbach could turn a win into the spark it needs to remain a factor again this season.
Bayern has been nearly flawless this season, starting with a win over Dortmund in the German Super Cup in the preseason. Bayern is perfect in league play and all competitions, and visits Werder Bremen on Saturday.
The great start comes with striker Mario Gomez, who finished second in scoring last season in the league, and left back David Alaba both sidelined because of injury. Winger Arjen Robben will also be sidelined this week.
Offseason addition Mario Mandzukic leads the league with five goals, two this week in a 3-0 win over old team Wolfsburg, but Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said he would remain cautious of each opponent.
"We won't be lulled into a false sense of security. We want to continue along our path without distractions," Heynckes said. "We have to carry on in exactly the same way we've done up to now."
Bremen has two wins and a draw from five matches, but could use a result this week to prove it could push the top clubs this season. Bremen was ninth in the table last season.
Also Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen hosts Greuther Furth, Hamburg hosts Hannover, Hoffenheim hosts winless Augsburg, and Nurnberg hosts winless Stuttgart.
On Sunday, undefeated Eintracht hosts Freiburg in search of its fifth win from six games, and Wolfsburg hosts Mainz.
On Friday, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Joel Matip gave Schalke a first-half lead, but Dani Schahin answered with a brace in the second half to see Dusseldorf come away with a valuable point at home.