Chelsea lost 2-1 to Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League last Saturday to leave Mourinho in a sour mood and their European adventure - they won the tournament in 2012 - is now their most likely trophy chance.
Mourinho, appearing in the semi-finals for a fifth successive season, was returning to the city which was his home for three years as Real manager, seeking a third Champions League after successes with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.
The Portuguese opted for a defensive approach against Atletico, who had never lost to English visitors in nine previous matches and were the last unbeaten team in the competition. The hosts, in the last four for the first time in 40 years, appeared undeterred by the pedigree of their opponents in the competition, but encountered a wall of black shirts.
Fernando Torres, starting against his former club, cut an isolated figure for the visitors as they packed men behind the ball, with Gary Cahill marshalling the dangerous Diego Costa superbly. Torres was given a warm reception on his first return to the Vicente Calderon since his 2007 move to Liverpool, something which was not afforded for Mourinho, who was roundly booed and abused in a partisan atmosphere.
Ashley Cole, who had played just 13 minutes for Chelsea since January, slotted in seamlessly after being included in place of the suspended Branislav Ivanovic, with Cesar Azpilicueta switched to right-back.
Costa - a rumoured summer target for Mourinho - and Terry acquainted themselves in one of a number of testy opening exchanges before Cech dealt with an inswinging corner.
As he punched the ball over from underneath his own crossbar, David Luiz pushed Raul Garcia into the Chelsea goalkeeper, who hit the ground with a thud.
The home fans showed little sympathy, chanting Courtois' name as Cech received treatment before Mark Schwarzer came on for his second Champions League match.
"There's not much to think about, but I'm always prepared and ready to play," the Australian goalkeeper said. "It's a tough thing to do but tonight I've tried to do my job when given the chance. We were right up for it, which you'd expect. Atletico Madrid have world-class players and we knew if we matched their determination, we'd give it a good go. It's very tough for the second leg but we've got to take each game as it comes."
Chelsea had few chances of note in the first period and Courtois was called upon only once, to claim a Lampard corner. Defensive duties were of the essence, with Cole and Luiz making key defensive headers and Diego shooting wide.
Terry was forced off in the second half after a couple of meaty challenges saw him clutching his ankle - though contact with Luiz may have been to blame. The Brazilian dropped into defence as Terry was replaced by Schurrle, who took Ramires' berth wide on the right. Atletico tried to exploit the defensive reshuffle and a mazy Felipe Luis run almost led to an opening for Garcia, but Chelsea frantically cleared.
As the hosts searched for an opening the ball hit Lampard's arm, resulting in a melee with the Atletico players calling for the midfielder's dismissal. Mikel and Gabi were booked in the aftermath, earning suspensions for both players, before Schwarzer turned Gabi's resulting free kick round the post.
Atletico threw on David Villa to add to their forward options, but still Chelsea were resolute as Costa failed to test Schwarzer with a header in the second of five minutes of added time.
"Chelsea defended really well," said Gabi, the Atletico midfielder. "We hoped to win. Every one of us played like we wanted to. We wanted to win the game at all cost. The tie is still very open. We are going over there to win."