After all the hand-wringing over the Cubs heading into the All-Star Break, they began the second half with an impressive sweep over a Pirates team that entered the weekend playing really well.
And with Milwaukee's loss Sunday, the 50-43 Cubs now have a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central.
There's plenty of baseball left to be played, but the Cubs passed the first test of a crucial homestand with flying colors and have given their front office plenty of reason for optimism with more than two weeks to go before the MLB trade deadline.
Manager Joe Maddon was running out of superlatives to give his team after Sunday's 8-3 victory, lauding the "wonderful" focus and was confident the Cubs could actually play even better than they did over the weekend.
So what's been the biggest difference for a Cubs team that had struggled for weeks leading up to the All-Star Break?
"I mean, it's rest," Maddon said. "People don't want to listen to that because it's way too simple. It's a simple concept. If you're more rested, you tend to do what you do better. If you're not, you tend to do it not as good.
"They don't let pilots fly too long. They don't let bus drivers drive too long. I don't like to drive my RV more than six or seven hours. You lose something. We all do. It's just difficult because it's one of those nebulous concepts where you just can't wrap your mind around it except it's true."
Prior to the All-Star break, the Cubs played 52 games in 54 days from mid-May until last Friday's off-day leading into the final installment of the Crosstown Classic (or whatever it's called nowadays).
For the players, the four days off during the break was more of a mental reset than anything else — even for the guys who went to Cleveland for the Midsummer Classic.
"You can play through the physical tiredness, but when you're going at it every day, getting beat up, it's more of a mental grind," Kris Bryant said. "So I think we're mentally rested and that's a good thing."
That mental rest showed up all weekend, as the sloppy play and the mistakes that had plagued the Cubs for the last few weeks was absolutely nowhere to be found.
There was Javy Baez motoring around from first to third base on Bryant's bloop single in the sixth inning Sunday — an aggressive read on the bases that eventually led to another important insurance run when he scored on Anthony Rizzo's sacrifice fly.
Defensively, Baez made a few nice plays on the afternoon, including teaming up with second baseman Robel Garcia on a couple of nifty double plays.
That stellar play defensively and on the basepaths was evident all weekend as they played the "cleaner" style of play they had been talking about for the last couple of weeks.
Quite simply, the Cubs just looked more like the Cubs this weekend.
"[Feeling fresh mentally] shows up in your overall game," Bryant said. "My body's still tired, but my mind is pretty sharp. I know when I'm like that, I'm approaching each and every day the way I should be and I'm not worrying about what happened the previous game.
"If we can all do that as a team, we'll be really good. And there's plenty of stretches where we have done that and it's just been really fun coming to the field, winning a lot of games like that."
As the Cubs move the season forward and try to get this level of play to show up on a consistent basis, they know they need to keep the focus on themselves and not worry about scoreboard watching or what other teams are doing.
But as far as starting off the second half on the right foot, you couldn't draw it up any better for the Cubs than what played out at Wrigley Field this weekend.
"We just want to keep the games close," Jason Heyward said. "Biggest thing about our first half is we're always in the game and we need to remember that. We can't get too down, we can't let things get away from us, we can't get sloppy. Don't take a break, because it's right there for us to take. Today was a good example of that."