Luis Suarez started life as a Barcelona player in the best possible manner, giving an assist to Neymar for the opening goal of the El Clasico within four minutes. But, that was as good as it got for the Uruguayan, making his return from a biting ban, and Barcelona as Real Madrid, rampant, punishing and scary-good on the attack tore the Barca defence to shreds to pick up an authoritative victory at the Bernabeu.
This La Liga El Clasico began in the best possible manner as Neymar scored a brilliant opener for Barcelona, before Ronaldo got his customary Real Madrid goal from the penalty spot to make it 1-1.
The match was perfectly poised at halftime, with the three points there for the taking for either of these wonderful attacking teams, and it was Real Madrid who stepped up a gear or three in the second period, striking two more times – via Pepe and Karim Benzema – to hand a thoroughly convincing knockout punch to the league leaders.
Suarez was the surprise name in the Barcelona starting XI, and the former Liverpool striker, making his competitive debut for Barcelona, made an immediate impact, playing a crossfield ball for Neymar, who cut in from the left and placed the ball home with aplomb to put the away team in front a few seconds after the three-minute mark.
The Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu were left a little shell-shocked by that early Barcelona goal, but the home team's players certainly did not spend any time licking those early wounds. The Real Madrid attack hit top gear immediately and caused the Barcelona defence all sorts of problems.
Marcelo was the man to cause panic in the Barcelona defence time and again, with the left-back making several searching runs down the wings and putting in equally probing crosses.
However, it was his partner on the left side – Ronaldo – who created the best opening for Real Madrid in the early exchanges, weaving his way past a couple of Barca defenders with mesmerising stepovers before crossing for Karim Benzema, whose header beat Claudio Bravo, but not the crossbar. Benzema latched onto the rebound first as well, but, again, cruelly saw his rasping shot thud off the woodwork.
Apart from the goal, Barcelona showed very little going forward in the first 15 minutes or so, but once Lionel Messi and Suarez found their groove, chances came aplenty. Messi, looking for the goal to become the joint top scorer in La Liga history, first tested Iker Casillas with a low drive from the edge of the box, before the Argentine incredibly missed a sitter from six yards, off a lovely cross from Suarez, as Casillas came to the fore again.
There were plenty of ooh and aah moments at the other end as well, and a Real Madrid goal looked as inevitable as a few tempers reaching boiling point in an El Clasico. It came via the impressive Marcelo, who saw his cross from the left strike Gerard Pique on the hand, with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Ronaldo stepped up and did what Ronaldo does best – score -- sending Bravo the wrong way, with that "I'm the man" celebration following suit.
The equaliser was no more than Real Madrid deserved, and the one thing that was clear heading into halftime was that there would be more goals in this game.
Those second half goals came to the home side, as Real Madrid showed why they are the European champions, cutting the Barcelona defence, which hadn't conceded a single goal in the La Liga heading into this El Clasico, apart, and then some.
Pepe made it 2-1 to Real Madrid via a corner, heading home powerfully after being left all alone by a non-existent Barcelona defence.
That goal was put Real Madrid in the perfect situation, as the more Barcelona poured forward in hunt for the equaliser, the more gaps that were left wide open for the likes of Ronaldo and Benzema to exploit.
Those gaps were exploited to the hilt for the third Real Madrid goal. Isco beat Andres Iniesta, who made anonymous look like the life of the party, to the ball in midfield before playing in Ronaldo, who shifted the ball to Rodriguez. The Colombian then picked out the perfect through ball for Benzema, who cool as ice slotted the ball across Bravo and into the bottom left corner on 61 minutes.
With the wind knocked out of Barcelona's sails, Luis Enrique looked to freshen things up a little by bringing on the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Pedro Rodriguez and Sergi Roberto, but the only team that looked like scoring remained Real Madrid, who wasted a whole host of chances to add the icing to an undoubtedly wonderful sweet-tasting cake.