Bayern Munich are destined to stave off their challengers and secure a record-extending eighth successive Bundesliga title, according to two-time German champion Hamit Altintop.
The Bavarian giants have been slow starters this season and sit four points off the pace after 13 games.
Results have improved since Niko Kovac was moved aside in November and Bayern chiefs appear comfortable with the health of their title prospects under interim head coach Hansi Flick.
RB Leipzig and surprise leaders Borussia Monchengladbach look to be credible threats but Altintop, who spent four seasons at Allianz Arena, tipped his old club to fight back.
"I think, considering the last few weeks, I cannot give the fans too much hope that anybody else but Bayern will become German champions," the former Turkey international told Omnisport.
"I think it's nice that every now and then teams are able to achieve great results by playing great football and doing that consistently.
"Borussia Monchengladbach are examples of that, Schalke have had a little boost.
"But I think Bayern with their experience, their set-up, their chairmanship and their fans, they are always a step ahead. They worked hard over the last years to be in that position.
"It will be very hard for other teams. Leipzig has a good team, but to be consistent on a great level in the Bundesliga as well as in the Champions League is difficult."
Altintop left Bayern as a free agent in 2011, a year on from starting in the Champions League final, and linked up with Real Madrid, where he won LaLiga.
The now-retired 36-year-old originally rose to prominence with hometown club Schalke and has been keeping a close eye on the team's impressive development under new boss David Wagner, who has them riding high in third.
"I think Schalke found their old virtues," said Altintop, a Puskas Award winner in 2010.
"They fight together. Of course they play good football, but the decisive factor is to fight for the club and for the jersey. When you do that, the fans are happy.
"And this season, with the good results, I think they can achieve a top-six place.
"Wagner, because of his experience in England, brings a little bit of extra fire, which is great."