It was a case of two teams with two very different objectives squaring off at the Liberty Stadium yesterday. Swansea City edging ever closer to the elusive '40 points' which will apparently secure safety in the Premier League for another term, while Queen's Park Rangers battling to avoid slipping into the Championship.
The Swans came in to the match with some saying they are suffering a dip in form.With only one win in six games, three of which without registering a goal. QPR on the other hand arrived in their best run of form in the Premier League since March 1995 - unbeaten in five.
Michael Laudrup brought Michel Vorm back in to goal after retuning from an ankle knock, and opted for an exciting attacking front four of Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Henrandez, playing just being Michu upfront.
QPR had failed to win in their last five visits to Swansea in all competitions and Harry Redknapp didn't show any idea that he wished to change that fact with a defensive set up, opting not to risk Loic Remy aggravating his groin injury further.
Swansea started frenetically with Dyer being involved a lot early on, eager to reaffirm his worth to the team after a poor run of personal form. It only took till the 8th minute before Michu was back on the score sheet for his 17th goal of the season and his 14th in the league, breaking his barren run of six premier league games without scoring.
With QPR defending very deep and packing their half out, the Swans had the vast majority of the possession, as to be expected from a team renown for their silky passing skills. The home teams second goal came just over ten minutes from their first, with Angel Rangel latching on to a great defence splitting through ball from Routledge, which he dispatched past Julio Cesar in the R's goal at the second attempt.
The only disappointment for the home faithful during the first half was seeing their new cult hero Chico Flores limp off with suspected ankle ligament damage.
While it has been the free scoring Michu that has been attracting all the headlines, it's the swashbuckling centre back that the Liberty faithful has warmed to the most. He continues to enhance his reputation as a top quality ball playing defender with every passing game. Possessing a Messi like body swerve and the dogged defending of John Terry it's the Andalucian's name that echoes around the Liberty the most.
After an erratic early few games as he adapted to the rigours of the English game he is now a firm fans favourite and it's his blossoming partnership with captain Ashley Williams that is proving the backbone to Laudrup's team. The second half begun with Redknapp introducing Esteban Granero and Bobby Zamora in an attempt to salvage a much needed positive result from the game.
And it was Zamora who made an immediate impact, following up a Taarabt shot that the returning Vorm should have done better with. This was the spark the second half needed, which kicked off a frantic 15 minutes. But the QPR comeback was stopped in its tracks two minutes later when Hernandez weaved his way through a crowded penalty area before slotting the ball coolly past Cesar in the Rangers goal to restore the home teams 2 goal cushion.
QPR then had an M'Bia effort cleared off the line by Kyle Bartley and a stonewall Ashley Williams handball missed by the officials.
The Swans wrapped up the win and secured all three points in the 68th minute with a contender for goal of the season - a classic team goal, and a classic Swansea goal. Built from the back, it finally saw Hernandez slide the ball through for that man Michu again to hold off the recent record buy Samba and to nonchalantly flick the ball past a hapless Cesar for his second brace against QPR this season, and providing Swansea with the double over their West London opponents.
After a recent run of dogged defensive performances from the team in all white, the QPR game was one where Laudrup adapted his tactics to that of a game that he felt was very much winnable, just like he did in his first game in the Swansea City hot seat at Loftus Road in August. That's nine goals against QPR alone this season.
Asked this week how he stays so calm during 90 minutes, the placid Dane responded “I have good players,I give them a game plan and they stick to it” - his charges have certainly done that.
Yesterday was a clash of one team that has had money thrown at it over and over again, where old timers go for one last payday, and the other building a team, one where everyone works for each other. Both teams were promoted to the top flight at the same time - one as champions making their return to the Premier League, the other as playoff winners making their Premier League bow.
Where are they now? One is looking a woeful team, devoid of ideas and teamwork heading back to the championship. The other moving comfortably towards another season in the Premier League, a visit to Wembley and possibly, just possibly even Europe.