Barcelona was helped by two own goals from Girona as it eased to a 3-0 win and kept its flawless record in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets are among the players to drop to the bench. A three-man defence, meanwhile, included Bernardo Espinosa, who joined the club in a £4m move from Middlesbrough during the summer transfer window.
"Messi worked for the team", Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.
The visitors looked threatening from the onset, although Girona did create a couple chances after 10 minutes with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen making the stops.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Aleix Vidal did more to help provoke a second goal three minutes after halftime, when Suarez deftly let Vidal's unsafe short pass go through his legs, where it hit surprised goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and went into the net.
Paulinho was handed his first start in La Liga, following his heroics last weekend, while Aleix Vidal started in the Barca attack. As it transpired, Girona stopper Iraizoz was credited with the own goal after replays demonstrated that Luis Suarez had stepped over the Vidal flick at the final moment.
Luis Suarez also notched in the second half when he powered home his 87th Barcelona goal on his 100th club appearance, and even forced Iraizoz's own goal with a cute step over.