Bayern Munich took advantage of RB Leipzig's slip up to move one point behind the Bundesliga leader with a 5-0 demolition of Schalke.
Buoyed by Leipzig's defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt earlier on Saturday, Hansi Flick's side was dominant from the off at Allianz Arena, leading from the sixth minute when Robert Lewandowski lashed in his 21st league goal of the season.
Thomas Muller bookended a fine first-half display, with the terrific Leon Goretzka striking against his previous club with a sensational scissor-kick five minutes after the break.
Thiago Alcantara helped himself to a simple finish as the host ran riot, with a blunder from goalkeeper Markus Schubert – playing in place of the suspended Alexander Nubel, who will join Bayern at the end of the season – enabling Serge Gnabry to complete the scoring in the 89th minute.
Manuel Neuer's mistake handed Suat Serdar an early chance but his effort was tame and Schalke was punished when Lewandowski thumped home after Schubert failed to deal with a cross into box.
Muller rightly had a goal disallowed for offside, before Schubert pulled off a fine save from Goretzka's close-range header.
Former Schalke star Goretzka did brilliantly to tee up Lewandowski for what appeared to be Bayern's second, only for VAR to deem Benjamin Pavard had strayed offside.
Schalke's luck ran out in first-half stoppage time – Muller nudging in his 100th goal at the Allianz Arena after connecting with Goretzka's cushioned header.
Schubert brilliantly denied David Alaba and Thiago in quick succession, but Bayern had its third when Goretzka volleyed in his first Bundesliga goal of the campaign.
Schalke's misery was added to eight minutes later, Lewandowski toying with Omar Mascarell before laying it on a plate for Thiago.
Bayern was not done there, however, and the host had its fifth when Schubert completely misjudged a curling effort from Gnabry and diverted it into his own net.
What does it mean? Pressure back on Leipzig
Julian Nagelsmann's side's 2-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt handed Bayern even more impetus and the Bundesliga champion is now in touching distance of leader Leipzig.
It is turning out to be an enthralling title race, with Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund also in the running.
Bayern hosts Leipzig on February 9 in what looks set to be a pivotal fixture.
Goretzka gives Schalke the blues
While Lewandowski has now scored in his past nine league appearances against Schalke, Goretzka was the fulcrum for Bayern. He teed up Muller before rounding off his performance with an exquisite finish.
Schalke's Bayern nightmare rumbles on
Schalke has now suffered 54 Bundesliga defeats to Bayern in 100 meetings, conceding 214 goals in the process, and is without a win against the side in 19 matches.
Bayern visits struggling Mainz in a week, while Schalke travels to the capital to face Hertha Berlin on Friday.