The following campaigns of the last two Premier League elite clubs to fall out of the top four after a prolonged spell in power suggest Chelsea have set new manager Antonio Conte unforgiving targets for the 2016/17 season.
According to the Daily Mail, the Blues suits expect the team to still be relevant as the title race reaches a crescendo, with achieving a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League the priority.
Neither Liverpool, who dropped out of the leading quartet in 2009/10 having finished the previous season four points off the title, nor Manchester United, who did so as defending champions in 2013/14, were able to come remotely close to a title challenge the following year.
In their respective bids to reassume their seats at the highest table a campaign on, the Old Trafford club finished some 17 points behind league winners Chelsea in fourth, while their Merseyside rivals could finish only sixth.
Chelsea are fourth in the top-four betting ahead of the 2016/17 campaign at 3/5 behind 4/25 favourites Manchester City, Manchester United at 11/25 and 11/20 shots Arsenal, while on their tails are Tottenham (11/10), Liverpool (8/5), Leicester (11/2), West Ham (9/1), Southampton (12/1) and Stoke (50/1).
Every team mentioned alongside the Blues in that paragraph finished above them last term and all will be investing newfound TV wealth with a view to consolidating that status quo this season.
City have Pep Guardiola, supposedly one of the world’s finest managers in the dugout, United have Jose Mourinho with a point to prove and Arsenal have top-four finish specialist Arsene Wenger calling the shots – the west Londoners have a Premier League rookie.
Conte will be tasked with rebuilding a team whose figurehead John Terry is creaking towards retirement and whose star centre-forward John Terry is reportedly desperate to rejoin his former club, with no Champions League carrot to dangle potential acquisitions and a host of newly-enriched rivals to compete with for their signatures.
For a team as used to winning things as Chelsea have become, a title bid and top-four finish are the sole targets acceptable to their sense of self-worth. The reality is achieving either will very difficult.