It is the truth that dare not speaks its name – even for a team as buoyant as Germany, there is reason to be fearful when Zlatan Ibrahimović is around.
Sweden were heading for a humbling loss to the Faroe Islands in Friday's FIFA World Cup qualifier, but Ibrahimović chimed in with an assist and a goal to earn Erik Hamrén's team a 2-1 win. Joachim Löw's charges enjoyed a far more straightforward 6-1 victory away to the Republic of Ireland the same evening, and are now three points clear at the Group C summit. There is nevertheless reason to be wary ahead of Tuesday's meeting in Berlin.
"He is an outstanding striker, a complete attacker and a leader of his team," Germany captain Philipp Lahm said of his Sweden counterpart. Löw is also cautious over the threat posed by his side's next opponents.
"Sweden play different football to the Irish," he said. "Sweden are capable of playing good football and do not only use the long ball. However, if we once again show organisation and discipline in defence, and play the passing game we are used to, we will create opportunities."
Though the forward threat posed by Ibrahimović is all too vivid for Germany, Marco Reus came unstuck when asked to name one of the defenders he might come up against on Tuesday. "Olof Mellberg?" A valiant try, but the venerable centre-back retired after UEFA EURO 2012.
Germany had their own period of reflection after this summe's final tournament in Poland and Ukraine, but Friday's emphatic triumph in Dublin is a another sign that their disappointing semi-final exit has been forgotten. "The European Championship ended extremely negatively for us," said defender Per Mertesacker.
"There were more than just a few who suddenly started doubting, because we were not able to make the final step. After the European Championship we needed a bit of time to find ourselves again. Now against Ireland, it all clicked into place. Such successes are good justification that our way is the right one."
The progress of Reus has been a major factor, with the Borussia Dortmund midfielder now a pivotal cog for Germany having been on the fringes over the summer. Two goals against Ireland signalled further substance to his increasing importance. "His shooting technique is outstanding," said Miroslav Klose, a man with 65 international goals to his name. "If I could shoot like him, I might have a couple more!"
Currently deployed on the left, Reus could develop into a 'false nine', a role Löw continues to consider but is yet to trial. "If I play well and work hard, everything else will happen on its own," said Reus. His development makes it an exciting time for Germany fans, with Tuesday's game likely to give plenty more pointers over the direction in which they are heading. Löw will hope it is a road which stops off in Brazil in 2014.