The visit of Manchester City had initially been of some intrigue given that both sides had spent lavishly to assemble their squads, yet there was only one figure which stood out at the end - Joe Hart. The City goalkeeper was left rooted on the edge of his penalty area in the final minute, watching after his mistake allowed Fernando Torres to score a winning goal.
Hart was relatively inexpensive when he was recruited from lowly Shrewsbury Town seven years ago but his errors this season have been much costlier - causing his side to arrest against Cardiff City and Bayern Munich prior to his error yesterday. The 26-year-old has perhaps kept his best performances this season for shampoo adverts, and the England internationalist was left scratching his scalp yesterday after his error put his side in a lather. It would last only a moment, though, with Torres scampering in behind to steal focus.
There have been moments during his time at Chelsea that the Spaniard will have tried to eschew attention, cutting his hair more often than he cut open defences. His goal - which added to an earlier strike from Andre Schurrle - would extend Jose Mourinho's unbeaten league record at Stamford Bridge to 65 matches but more tellingly it seemed to restore Torres to his former majesty. It would crown a performance in which the striker also smacked a shot on to the crossbar and assumed a central role in discomfiting City.
Mourinho would also agitate the visitors. The Chelsea manager has shown a penchant for dramatic celebrations and he leapt into the crowd behind the City dug out to celebrate with his son after Torres struck. The Portuguese would clamber back out again just in time to be refused a handshake from Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager.
"Chelsea is guilty because I want to buy a season ticket for my son and they give a season ticket for my son behind the opponents' dug out," said Mourinho. "They have to give my kid tickets behind my dug out. I promise that I went for him. But this is the drama of the last minute.
"Last year I beat Man City in the last minute in Madrid, I slid on my knees, I destroyed my trousers. This is emotion of the game. If they believe that my son is there, great. If they don't believe, I apologise if they feel that I did something wrong."
Hart will likely have articulated his own feelings of regret within the City dressing room. The goalkeeper was far from blameless in the defeat but he was not the only City player at fault, either; Martin Demichelis marking his City debut by conceding a meek corner after just three minutes. Gary Cahill met with the cross only to miss the target.
Schurrle's goal after 33 minutes would serve as an instruction, then, and the German striker turning a shot past Hart after he was found in the penalty area by Torres. The Spain striker had knocked a shot over the crossbar minutes earlier but his cross for his team-mate was in defiance of his own inhibitions.
"[Chelsea were] afraid to say 'we want to win, we can win'," Mourinho added. "We played very, very well. If we can play like this against Manchester City, why can't we play like this in every match in the Premier League? That is the self-esteem we need. We played fantastic against a fantastic team. And that's not easy. We were better than them. And that's not easy."
He sense of confidence was hardly blemished by City's equaliser, which came four minutes after the break. Its arrival had been unexpected yet the name of the scorer was hardly a surprise - Sergio Aguero showing sublime poise first to time his run on to a pass forward and then to clip a sumptuous shot beyond Petr Cech. The Chelsea goalkeeper had been motionless as the ball flew past him and the goal should stand as a monument to the prowess of its architect.
It seemed unfair that Aguero's skill would be sullied by such a messy goal from City's perspective. As Hart stood gawping the scene before him will have unfolded like a car crash; a long pass from Chelsea substitute Willian escaping between both the City goalkeeper and defender Matija Nastasic, with Torres making up enough ground in his pursuit of the loose ball to prod a shot past Demichelis and into the net.
"We repeat the story. We had absolutely the control of the game, we played very, very well in the second half," said Pellegrini, who declined to answer specific questions about Hart. "We didn't have any problem with Chelsea but finally in the last minute we lost a goal and we lost the game.
"We are losing stupid points from the beginning. The three defeats that we have away we did not deserve one of them. The reality is that we have time to [respond]. I'm very happy with how the team is playing everywhere, at home or away. Today in a very difficult stadium here against a great team we had the control and we played a very good game."