Neil Humphreys: Isco, Asensio are just what Spain need to conquer the World Cup
Madrid mavericks Isco and Asensio can rule in Russia
The baton might have passed from Barcelona to Madrid, but Spain are back.
Real superstars are primed to rule in Russia.
Isco and Marco Asensio are not a couple of kids from the Catalans.
They were made in Madrid and bear the mark of Zinedine Zidane's instruction.
But, if La Liga's finest incubators have switched clubs, it's business as usual for the Spaniards.
World Cup fever is in the air following La Furia Roja's easy 3-0 Group G win over Italy yesterday morning (Singapore time) and it's spreading.
Spain are doing their thing again. They're reaching parts of the soul other nations cannot reach.
They're getting bums off seats and stirring interest, finally, in a World Cup that was hard to care about.
Their timing is impeccable. Adoration will only increase further as the tournament draws closer.
World Cup organisers must be privately basking in the new Spanish glow, from Russia with love, real love.
A World Cup with Spain playing like this is always a World Cup worth watching.
They look as good as new because they're almost as good as the old, combining the best of both generations to create a vibrant, fresh line-up that penetrates rather then plods.
“It is one thing to have quality and another to be a great player. Isco has always had quality and now he is becoming a great player.”Spain coach Julen Lopetegui believes Isco is finally making his abundant talent count
Possession-based football has given way to the kind of ruthless attacking raids familiar to regulars at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid's gain is Spain's gain.
And his name is Isco.
Only a Spaniard could acquire three Champions League trinkets and be considered an international rookie, such is the depth of his nation's talent.
Isco feels like a kid in a Spain jersey, but he's already 25.
He's a veteran at Real Madrid, but served the longest apprenticeship behind the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.
Yet that slow and steady apprenticeship has produced a sly master with minimal fuss.
Spain's interminable decline at the 2014 World Cup and then Euro 2016 coincided with Isco's quiet ascent in Madrid.
Similarly, Real's understandable obsession with the "BBC" up front and a midfield that included Modric and Toni Kroos also overshadowed Isco's growth.
But Zidane knew. Bale's sustained injuries coincided with Isco's remarkable form last season and made the decision to select him all the way to Champions League victory a relatively easy one.
Increasing speculation over Bale's return to the English Premier League has as much to do with Isco's development as it does with the British media's insular obsession with bringing its local boys home.
Isco's dominance against Italy will hardly quash those Bale rumours.
Nominally, he was positioned to the right of Spain's front three, alongside Asensio and false-striker David Silva.
But Isco played the Scarlet Pimpernel. He was everywhere, but elusive.
The whipped free-kick over the wall and that exquisitely placed strike from distance earned him a memorable brace, but his tireless work with teammates confirmed his status as a complete footballer.
Both Isco and Asensio dropped deep to control the game's tempo with Andres Iniesta and Silva, offering a priceless glimpse of yesterday's magicians sharing the wand with tomorrow's conjurers.
If Spain's old guard of Iniesta, Silva and Sergio Busquets hang on for a final curtain call in Russia, Spain could produce a command performance.
Asensio is still only 21 and quickly building a case to be a regular starter for both club and country.
His speed, confidence and invention, not to mention his established club relationship with Isco, allowed him to toy with Italian right back Matteo Darmian.
Their superiority was underlined by Alvaro Morata's position in the starting line-up. He didn't have one.
Frankly, he was surplus to requirements, a handy back-up plan if required.
Interestingly, on the eve of the World Cup qualifier, Morata admitted that Chelsea had lavished £70 million (S$123.4m) on a Real Madrid substitute.
He was speaking in the context of needing to prove himself, but he unwittingly underlined the gulf between the current Spanish crop and their rivals.
Morata was the best striker that Chelsea's money could buy, but he was a bit-part player for both club and country at home.
Isco and Asensio are currently in a different league, beyond the reach of the EPL's most extravagant paymasters.
The pair have already usurped bigger names in Madrid. Now the world is theirs for the taking.