Madrid, simply put, lacked cutting edge in this game. Suspensions and injury continued to take their toll as Pepe, Ramos and Marcelo were unable to play and Madrid were lacking Cristiano Ronaldo on the wing.
A further complication: the game, in 3 days, against Valencia, which had Mourinho, apparently, rest Özil and Benzema in favour of Modrić (who had played splendidly mid-week) and a not-yet-fully-match-fit Gonzalo Higuaín.
Varane and Albiol slotted in at central defence. Khedira and Alonso, as usual, played the double pivot. Ahead of them, Callejón, Modrić, Higuain and Angel di María were expected to provide the attack.
Madrid is a team that does usually attack down the wings. This left Modrić rather isolated in the centre. And with no CR7 on the wing the attack simply lacked danger.
Angel di María, while very energetic, combined badly with Modric (a player he has rarely played with this season) and two promising counter attacks in the first half broke down because of his reluctance to pass to teammates who were running into space. It was not a bad performance from di María, who helped out in defence, but it was certainly not a good one either.
Higuaín's old danger showed in glimpses - his positioning was perfect. He was however, unsurprisingly given his long convalescence, lacking touch. It was a promising performance, and Madridistas will be glad to have him back, but he was, perhaps, not yet ready to start a game.
Madrid did not dominate possession but were the better side. The defence held up well and Coentrão and Varane, in particular, did a fine job in an unaccustomed line-up - covering each other as Coentrão cleared balls from central defence and Varane used his speed to cover the flanks.
Up front the team had few shots/shots on goal, but was very threatening on the counter-attack. Probably noticing this, Mourinho sent on Özil, Kaká and took off a tiring Higuaín for Benzema in the second half to take advantage of this and to try and find a goal.
Madrid picked up their game, until they were down to 10 after two unbelievably soft yellow cards saw Kaká dismissed from the field of play. There were a few more counter-attacks, and Callejón even had the ball in the net (ruled marginally offside) but there was too little time left for Madrid to find time to score. In addition, injury-time was cut short.
It's hard to take anything concrete from this game. Iker Casillas and his defence did well and were very committed - especially to covering for one another and making do without the aerial skills of Cristiano Ronaldo to help out on set-pieces.
The lack of incisive attacking was probably down to the unfamiliarity of the players in the forward line with one another and to bad decision making in rapidly developing situations (such as: whenever Madrid broke). If Angel di María was trying to make a strong case for his return to the line-up he probably failed to do so. It was not a poor performance, but it was not good enough in a game when he needed to step up, and to make better decisions on the break.
Madrid play Valencia this week. Good luck to the team.