The contrasting fortunes in northern Germany move into focus at the weekend, with one club currently towering over the rest and keen to assert their authority on Friday night.
Wolfsburg, Bundesliga champions in 2009, are undergoing something of a revival this season while neighbouring clubs Hamburg, Werder Bremen, Hannover and Eintracht Braunschweig are all faltering.
The Wolves could close the gap on fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach with a win over Hamburg this Friday, but the visitors are aiming to win back-to-back games for the first time this season to give their own season a boost.
"We are capable of winning two in a row," said Hamburg's director of sport Thomas Kreuzer, whose side lie 11th - seven points behind Wolfsburg.
The situation is much worse for Braunschweig, who are not only rooted to the foot of the table but have the biggest challenge of all this weekend, travelling to Bayern Munich.
Werder Bremen are also slipping towards the danger zone, although their director of sport Thomas Eichin is not overly concerned ahead of their trip to Hoffenheim, who have lost their last three games in a row.
"If we had an extra three points then nobody would even be talking about a relegation battle," he told Kicker magazine.
That leaves Hannover, who are hovering just three points above the bottom three, in desperate need of points at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
After winning their first four home games of the season, they have drawn two and lost one of their past three and desperately need to turn the Niedersachsenstadion into a fortress once again.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen will be keen to bounce back from their humiliating 5-0 defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday when they host Nurnberg while Borussia Dortmund, although triumphant in the Champions League in midweek, are still reeling from two Bundesliga losses in a row.
They travel to Mainz on Saturday while Schalke, another of Germany's Champions League representatives, are in action against Stuttgart on Saturday evening.
Finally, Sunday's late game sees Monchengladbach host Freiburg, who won for only the second time last weekend whereas the Foals have won four in a row.