Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer took over at the top with some brilliant golf on the second morning of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
World number two McIlroy had four birdies in his first nine holes to move from three behind overnight leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello to one in front.
The Irish golfer was almost certainly aware, though, that world number four Kaymer was also going well in the following group.
The German, who in Abu Dhabi last year left McIlroy eight strokes behind him in second place, had three birdies in seven holes to join Cabrera-Bello on nine under par.
For the second day running McIlroy might easily have closed the back nine with an eagle, but once again he missed from inside 10 feet and had to settle for a four.
Cabrera-Bello was the among the later starters and, given the perfect conditions again, probably expected to have ground to make up by the time he teed off again.
France's Romain Wattel had improved from six under to eight under with six to play, while Scot Richie Ramsay played his first 10 holes in four under to join compatriot Scott Jamieson and German Marcel Siem in fifth place on seven-under.
This year's Abu Dhabi winner Robert Rock had work to do just to survive the halfway cut following an opening 73 on his return to action, but playing with 2009 champion McIlroy he also went to the turn in a four under 33 and had improved from 92nd to joint 23rd.
Four other former winners of the title - Colin Montgomerie, Mark O'Meara, Miguel Angel Jimenez and holder Alvaro Quiros - were alongside him, as was world number three Lee Westwood. He had yet to tee off again, however.