Trainer Profe Ortega has put Atlético through their paces during the preseason, but it was more telepathy than tactics that saw Costa and João Félix link up on multiple occasions to torment Real Madrid’s broken back line.
Costa scored his first after 44 seconds when Álvaro Morata played a ball into his path before he struck across Thibaut Courtois — with the help of a deflection off Sergio Ramos’ studs.
That lead was doubled after eight minutes when João Félix poked home a Saúl cross, who drove forward to win the ball before he provided the assist.
Ángel Correa and Costa with two more efforts — one from the penalty spot — made it three, then four, then five nil as Madrid were battered time and time again by Atlético’s direct and dynamic counterattacks.
It was embarrassment for Madrid in the Big Apple and despite the fact that it was a friendly, there were worrying signs from that opening 45 that their problems from last year weren’t fixed, and may have actually compounded over the summer.
On 51 minutes, Costa scored his fourth of the game after a lovely ball from Félix. The striker clipped it over Keylor Navas for a change after he terrorised Courtois in the opening half.
And 14 minutes later, there was Costa getting sent off after Nacho had pulled one back from an Eden Hazard cross and a lucky bounce.
Dani Carvajal got his marching orders at the same time when he kicked out at Thomas Lemar before Costa jumped in to confront the right-back. In a way, it was a perfect ending to a perfect night for Costa, who often showed that nasty side to him last season without ever doing much in open play.
After a season with reported angst in the dressing room over Antoine Griezmann’s bloated salary, this was a chance for Costa to lay down a marker that this is a team again — and a good one at that.
Much-forgotten Vitolo scored the seventh after a blazing run down the left before he cut in and fired beyond Navas at his near post. Karim Benzema added a penalty after Héctor Herrera pulled down Nacho, and Javi Hernández headed home just before the end but the damage was long done.
Costa stole the show and Madrid have a lot of work to do still, but Diego Simeone and Atlético fans can look forward to the new season with hope. It’s a new-look side with fresh players in key positions, an experienced core — and of course, a hungry Costa.
As warning shots go, this was one heard loud and clear by Atlético’s competitors next season.