If Chelsea’s Premier League rivals were in any doubt as to the fearsome strength in depth available to Jose Mourinho they need only have watched last night’s Europa League coverage.
A trio of players the Blues were content to move on found themselves on the score sheet in decisive fashion on the competition’s second group-stage matchday.
Demba Ba, sold this summer to Besiktas for a fee in the region of £4m, struck an 89th-minute penalty to salvage a point for his new employers against Tottenham.
So self-assured was Jose Mourinho this summer that he allowed the Senegalese, who was his most efficient striker last term in terms of goals-per-90-minutes (0.67), to depart along with Samuel Eto’o (who struck Everton’s equaliser in Krasnodar) in the summer.
Elsewhere Yuri Zhirkov was similarly decisive at the death for Dinamo Moscow spearing a volley, with a trusty left foot Matthew Harding Stand regulars will remember fondly, to down PSV Eindhoven in the Russian capital.
He had lasted just one season at Stamford Bridge before being shipped out to the doomed venture known as Anzhi Makhachkala for a price too good to ignore for a second-choice full-back.
Yet the Russian’s well-taken volley paled in significance to the screamer netted for Wolfsburg by another former Blue, Kevin de Bruyne.
Mourinho was hardly at pains to play down the fact that he didn’t particularly rate the Belgian, who made just three league appearances under the Portuguese before being sent packing to Germany.
The fact that three individuals of such high calibre have fallen by the wayside like last year’s fashions in Chelsea’s pursuit of their next great squad suggests they are getting closer to the level of their 2004/05 roster once again.
Ba has been replaced by seven-goal hitman Diego Costa, Zhirkov by Cesar Azpilicueta AND Filipe Luis and De Bruyne by Cesc Fabregas.
As such the 3/5 about their Premier League title chances doesn’t look unnecessarily short and neither do the 67/100 odds about them turning over Arsenal on Sunday.