Instead, thanks to the little magician's late intervention, Madrid know they cannot afford to slip up while coming down the stretch.
Barcelona have supplanted them at the summit, now ahead on head-to-head record and though Madrid have a game in hand, Luis Enrique's side have points on the board.
So, how does the run-in look for each side?
La Liga table
As of 24 April
Barcelona's remaining fixtures
Barcelona have five games left, one less than Madrid's six. The first comes on Wednesday night, with the visit of basement club Osasuna to the Nou Camp. Petar Vasiljevic's side may have picked up their dreadful form of late, but should still be no match for the league leaders.
The derbi barceloni with mid-table Espanyol follows, after which Luis Enrique's men entertain a competitive Villarreal side who still have a outside chance of making next season's Champions League. El Submarino Amarillo held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw earlier this season and would have taken maximum points if not for a late Messi free-kick.
Barcelona's season ends culminates with a trip to the Canary Islands to face Las Palmas and then a visit from Eibar, who were enjoying a decent spell of form until their defeat at Betis this weekend.
Real Madrid's remaining fixtures
On Wednesday, Madrid travel to the Riazor to face Deportivo La Coruna, who came up with a surprise win over Barcelona last month. Valencia then visit the Bernabeu and they will be hoping for a repeat of the performance that saw them beat Zidane's men 2-1 at the Mestalla in February.
Tony Adams' Granada should be easy pickings, but it is worth noting that the fixture falls in between Madrid's two Champions League semi-final legs against neighbours Atletico. Their toughest test in league comes a week after, with Jorge Sampaoli's Sevilla in the Spanish capital.
Malaga away, another fixture that ended in defeat for Barcelona, follows on the final day. Madrid's game in hand is against Celta Vigo, with the original fixture postponed in February after Vigo's ground was damaged by storms. The match is yet to be rescheduled.
How do the run-ins compare?
On paper, Madrid's run-in is just about the easier of the two. Zidane's side play only two of their six games at the Bernabeu, but face only two teams who currently sit in the top half.
Nevertheless, Barcelona will look at their schedule and be confident that they can pick up maximum points from every game. The derby and Villarreal's visit will both be key. Six points from those two and you imagine the race will go down to the wire.
What do Barcelona need?
Despite their clasico victory and rise to the summit, this race remains out of Barcelona's hands because of Madrid's game in Vigo. Quite simply, Luis Enrique's side have to keep winning and hope Madrid slip up again.
Should that happen, Barcelona will be in the driving seat. Messi's late winner on Sunday means they now have the superior head-to-head record over Madrid and they only need to match their rivals' points total in order to claim the title.
Who will come out on top?
Our money's on Madrid for now, given their favourable run-in. There's a strong case to be made for Barcelona though, especially when considering the momentum that Sunday's win should give them.
From here on out, a lot is going to depend on 'the known unknowns', i.e. injuries to key players, Madrid's European commitments and crucially, the date of that game in hand.