Champions Barca set the tone with a thumping 4-0 victory over Granada at the Nou Camp in the early kick-off, despite fielding an understrength team with Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Xavi, Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, Jonathan Dos Santos, Ibrahim Afellay and Cristian Tello all out.
Two first-half penalties, from captain Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, established a comfortable half-time lead and Alexis Sanchez put the result beyond doubt 19 minutes from time - soon after the visitors had lost midfielder Manuel Iturra to a red card.
Pedro added a fourth in the final minute to seal the rout as Barca moved provisionally six points clear of Atletico and nine ahead of Real Madrid.
However, Real Madrid swiftly cut the deficit back to six points by going one better than their arch rivals, hammering Almeria 5-0 at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos.
Cristiano Ronaldo needed less than three minutes to break the deadlock and, although that is how it stayed until after the hour mark, the floodgates opened in the final half-hour as further strikes from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Isco and Alvaro Morata completed the mauling.
The only worry for the capital club was the fact Ronaldo had to come off at the start of the second half due to injury.
The Portugal forward, fresh from almost single-handedly getting his country to the World Cup finals with a brilliant hat-trick in the midweek play-off second leg against Sweden, signalled to the bench early in the second half that he had picked up a knock and could not continue.
Atletico, having temporarily slipped to third following Real's win, quickly got back up to second by posting an even more resounding triumph in the late kick-off - 7-0 against Getafe at the Vicente Calderon.
Substitute Diego Costa provided the highlight of the evening with a brilliant overhead kick midway through the second half for the fifth goal.
Raul Garcia and David Villa each netted a brace, with Alberto Lopo's 37th-minute own goal and a last-minute strike from substitute Adrian rounding off the scoring.
Seventh-placed Getafe were always up against it following the 42nd-minute dismissal of Juan Valera for two bookable offences with the score at 2-0, and the hosts' numerical advantage duly told after the break.
The wins for the top three ensured it was 'as you were' at the summit, with Barca three points ahead of Atletico and six clear of third-placed Real Madrid after 14 games.
The other match in the Spanish top flight on Saturday saw Real Sociedad edge a seven-goal thriller against Celta Vigo, Carlos Vela scoring all four goals as Sociedad hit back from two goals down with half an hour remaining.
The former Arsenal striker opened the scoring with less than six minutes on the clock but the visitors scored twice in the space of five minutes through Rafinha and Alex Lopez to take the lead into half-time.
Luis Enrique's side looked to have the points wrapped up when Rafinha struck again after 57 minutes but Vela pulled one back and the pendulum swung further towards the hosts when Celta midfielder Andreu Fontas was sent off for two bookable offences.
With an extra man and their home fans roaring la Real on, Vela scored two more goals in the space of three minutes to complete the comeback and bring the match to an extraordinary climax.