Bayern Munich's objective of ending their dismal start to the season faces the formidable obstacle of defending champions Wolfsburg in the upcoming fourth round in Germany's Bundesliga.
|Bayern Munich's Louis Van Gaal, centre, was mystified by his team's loss to Mainz [GALLO/GETTY]
The season so far has had an all too familiar look for Bayern - a new coach and an embarrassing start, worse even than under Juergen Klinsmann last year.
Klinsmann, a novice at club level, had five points after three games.
Louis van Gaal, who won the Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam and domestic
league titles in Spain and his native Netherlands, has only two at the same stage of the season.
It is the club's worst start in 43 years.
Van Gaal was hired to restore Bayern's glory but so far his team has yet to win a game in the Bundesliga.
In 14th place at two points, Bayern are already five points off the lead shared by Leverkusen, Hamburg and Schalke.
On Saturday they face Wolfsburg, who snatched their first title last season when Bayern finished second despite a turbulent season and the firing of Klinsmann with five games remaining.
Wolfsburg are coming off their first loss of the season, a 4-2 home defeat by a strong Hamburg.
Bayern lost 2-1 at promoted Mainz last week and more worrying than the result was the lame way Bayern let themselves be outplayed by the modest hosts.
"Football involves running and if you don't run and fight you will not be successful,'' Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said.
Energy was missing from Bayern's game, particularly in a first half that was one the worst in the Bavarian giant's recent history.
"We are now only looking ahead,'' midfielder Hamit Altintop said of the match against Wolfsburg.
"The first half against Mainz was catastrophic. The next game is very important for us, we want to give out a signal.''
Thomas Mueller, a 19-year-old forward who is getting extended playing time under van Gaal, said: "The atmosphere is not so good after such a start to the season but we must not let ourselves get down.''
"We knew that it would be a difficult start and we have it now,'' said defender Philipp Lahm, who has been one of Bayern's better players so far.
Lahm said the team needed time to implement van Gaal's ideas.
"There is a lot of tactic with him. He has clear ideas how a position has to be played. This is a big adjustment for all of us because it wasn't like that in the past years.
"You will see us playing much better in the next few weeks.''
Van Gaal has been tinkering with his formation and newly arrived striker Ivica Olic thinks "we still haven't found the best one.''
The Dutch coach was mystified by the team's display in Mainz.
"I am asking myself what we did wrong in preparing for the season,'' he said.
By letting central defender Lucio leave, van Gaal has created a void at the back.
Few of the new arrivals have proved their worth so far and Beckenbauer has not ruled out another signing before the transfer period ends August 31.
Bayern has managed to keep French star Franck Ribery, but he has played only 30 minutes due to knee tendinitis and was unhappy to be placed in central midfield rather than on the preferred left wing.
Now, Ribery says he is willing to give it a try.
"I'll see how it works,'' said Ribery, who could come back against Wolfsburg, at least off the bench.