A brand-new championship format amid strict epidemic prevention measures brought about unprecedented challenges -- each team been asked to play a game every four days, and even more regularly after the CFA Cup kicked off, which forced many clubs to deal with squads plagued with niggling injuries.
You can argue about the VAR decisions in Real Madrid's 3-2 win away to Betis, but one thing the game showed is that Zinedine Zidane is a coach who is willing to chop and change his side in order to get a result.
The Nerazzurri made a dream start just 28 seconds into the game, as Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock from Achraf Hakimi's assist.
Ninth seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada crashed out after suffering a shock defeat to Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain.
With Paulo Dybala not fully fit, Pirlo started new signing Alvaro Morata to partner Ronaldo up front.
But it seems apparent that it will not be easy to find a new coach.
The match had been suspended by a Rio de Janeiro labor court on Saturday but the decision was overturned by a senior judge just 10 minutes before kickoff. The game eventually started more than 20 minutes late.
Comments of team leaders indicate growing unrest in a squad that seems to fear their ambitions could be disappointed when trying to repeat some of last season's success after winning the treble.
It didn't take too long for the former Inter Milan forward to add another as he slotted home in the 62nd minute after receiving Mbappe's fine cross.
With the epidemic being effectively controlled, fans were allowed back into the stadiums from August 22, which is a credit to Chinese football in such a special period.
"This is the first major tournament in the last 11 months because of the epidemic. I know I can swim faster this time and want to see how fast I could be," said the bronze medalist of the world championships.