Real Madrid are the runway champions of LaLiga Santander but Atletico played like a team with a point to prove on Sunday night and their 1-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano should give them a boost ahead of the off-season, as well as going a long way to securing Champions League football for next season.
Atletico Madrid had the better of it in the first half, clearly hungrier than their rivals, with the newly-crowned champions fielding a much-changed side, perhaps with a view to giving the likes of Luka Modric and Karim Benzema as much rest as possible ahead of the Champions League final.
After threatening on a number of occasions, the home side finally got their reward in the 40th minute through the lively Yannick Carrasco from the spot.
Matheus Cunha drove through the middle and was bundled down in the box by Jesus Vallejo. The referee initially waved play on, to the displeasure of the raucous home support at the Wanda Metropolitano, but a delayed VAR check gave them what they wanted.
The goal woke the champions up somewhat and Toni Kroos flashed a shot wide from distance as Los Blancos looked to restore their pride, but in truth it was Atleti who remained on top and with better composure could have increased their lead before the break.
As the second half began, it was Los Colchoneros once again who liked more like they meant business. With a top four spot not yet secure, their motivation was clear, as it any extra incentive should be required in a derby.
Antoine Griezmann, introduced at the interval for Angel Correa looked keen to make an impression and he linked up well with his teammates and had the crowd gasping shortly before the hour mark when he shot narrowly over from distance.
Moments later Carrasco really should have doubled his and Atleti's tally after Marcos Llorente played him in after a good run. The Belgian's first-time shot, however, sailed over the bar.
Griezmann would go even closer later on as Los Rojiblancos looked to kill the game before Real Madrid found a second wind towards the end as they pushed to avoid a derby defeat.
Marco Asensio went close with a free kick, but Jan Oblak had it reasonably well covered. As Los Blancos sought to find a way through, the absence of Benzema perhaps became more and more telling.
That Carlo Ancelotti left the French striker on the bench shows where his priorities are right now, but it is also another indicator of how much his team rely on the 34-year-old.
Ultimately, the better team won on the night in a derby that was keenly contested despite the fact title has already been decided. For Atleti, the three points could be crucial, but so too might the pride that this win gives them coming at the end of a disappointing campaign.
Next season Diego Simeone's men won't want to be 17 points behind their arch-rivals going into the final three games of LaLiga Santander.