Sao Paulo are in a rich vein of form. Not only did their 4-0 victory over Alianza Lima on Wednesday pocket them three important points in Group 2 of the 2007 Copa Libertadores de America, but it extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 25 matches - the second longest undefeated sequence in the club's history.
It is a chain that began over five months ago, with their last loss coming at the hands of cross-city rivals Palmeiras on 24 September. Thereafter, Muricy Ramalho's side powered to the 2006 Brasileiro title and, since the turn of the year, have strode towards a place in the semi-finals of the Campeonato Paulista.
Meanwhile, Sao Paulo's midweek win over the Peruvian champions kept them on course to advance from a competitive pool in this year's Copa Libertadores. A double from Alex Silva and strikes from Leandro and finally Junior sealed a comfortable success for last season's runners-up, and moved them on to four points from two games, two behind group leaders Necaxa, whom they will encounter later this month, and three clear of third-placed Audax.
And as the side completed a famous quarter-century of games without defeat, their skipper Rogerio Ceni reached a landmark of his own when turning out against Alianza Lima. Playing in his 41st Copa Libertadores match, the world's record scoring goalkeeper created a new club record for number of appearances in the competition, surpassing Danilo. In fact, Rogerio needs just one goal to outrank Pedro Rocha, Palhinha and Muller as the Brazilian outfit's leading marksman in South America's showpiece club tournament.
Sao Paulo's ten outings in the current Campeonato Paulista have seen them earn seven wins and three draws. However, it is a return that has been insufficient to take them into pole position in the standings, a distinction that belongs to the reigning champions Santos, who pipped the Tricolor Paulista to the title by a single point in 2006.
Under a modified format, whereby the regular season's top four will advance to a knockout phase, one point is all that separates the teams. Although both sides are expected to clinch a place in the last four, they will be eager to steal top spot and consequently take on the fourth-placed finishers for a place in the final. Encouraged by a 1-0 reverse of Santos on away soil in November, Sao Paulo will be confident of repeating the trick when the rivals meet on 11 March.
Sao Paulo have a long way to go if they are to rewrite the record books and emulate their finest ever unbeaten run, a stretch that began in 1974 and lasted for 39 official games until August 1975. Ironically, the club's current coach, Muricy Ramalho, formed part of that side, which also included the likes of Waldir Peres, Pedro Rocha, Terto and Serginho Chulapa. Nevertheless, in spite of an impressive cast of players and the admirable run they embarked upon, Sao Paulo went unrewarded in 1974 and only managed to secure one prize the following year: the Campeonato Paulista trophy.
As leader this time around, Ramalho is focused on ensuring that the team's current prosperity bears fruit. Sao Paulo finished 2005 as state, continental and global champions, and last year they became national titleholders. If their early form is anything to go by, the Tricolor Paulista will be a force to be reckoned with on all four fronts in 2007.