Barcelona twice came from behind to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw at Valencia while Real Madrid dropped points again in a goalless affair at Racing Santander in La Liga on Wednesday.
Barca missed the chance to go top at early pacesetters Valencia but will be happy with a point against Unai Emery's impressive side and were unlucky not to leave with all three.
Jose Mourinho's Real team, who are attempting to end Barca's three-year stranglehold on the Spanish title, won their opening two games but suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante on Sunday.
They again looked short of creativity against Racing and barely threatened the home goal in an uninspiring display.
Valencia top the standings with 10 points from four matches, one ahead of Malaga, who beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 earlier on Wednesday, and surprise package Real Betis.
Promoted Betis have won three out of three and move clear of Valencia with a win at home to Real Zaragoza on Thursday.
Barcelona, Sevilla and Levante all have eight points, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad on seven.
Barca, who demolished Osasuna 8-0 on Saturday, faced a stiff test at Valencia and were rocked in the 12th minute when Eric Abidal turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
They were level two minutes later thanks to Pedro's powerful low shot from a tight angle but fell behind again in the 23rd minute when Pablo Hernandez finished off a sweeping move.
Cesc Fabregas equalised again with just over 10 minutes left and the visitors pressed hard for a winner at the end.
Former Valencia striker David Villa squandered a chance after being played through by Lionel Messi who was furious not to get a penalty when he appeared to have been bundled over by defender Miguel in added time.
The outcome could have been even worse for Real at the Sardinero as Racing, coached by Argentine Hector Cuper, had a couple of chances to pull off an upset victory.
Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa prevented Ariel Nahuelpan getting a shot away in the first half and their Spain keeper Iker Casillas pulled off a brilliant save just after halftime when he palmed away a low drive from Oscar Serrano for a corner.
"This is two matches now without winning against opponents who to be honest do not compete with us," Casillas told Spanish television.
"It's hard to take in but we have to lift our heads and we know that the image we are projecting is not the right one and is not up to the standard of Real Madrid."
At the Calderon, Atletico's new signing, Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, followed Sunday's hat-trick against Racing with a double in a 4-0 win at home to Sporting Gijon.
Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla netted the only goal in Malaga's win against visitors Bilbao with the Basque club's latest failure increasing the pressure on their new coach, Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, who has yet to win a game this term.
Levante built on Sunday's success against Real with a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano, who had Pedro Botelho sent off with about 15 minutes left.