This season’s Chelsea are big, brassier and classier than the 2013/14 vintage in just about every way but somehow the overhaul seems to have damaged their defence.
Increased generosity is hardly what must have been expected upon the return of long-term loanee Thibaut Courtois, who kept 40 clean sheets across his last 74 La Liga games, from Atletico Madrid.
Yet the Blues are more than a quarter of their way to the 27 goals-against that made theirs the best defence in the Premier League last term after just five games.
With the exception of the Belgian beanpole, Jose Mourinho’s rearguard is unchanged from the crack squadron that achieved that notable feat.
So does a portion of the blame lie with the gloveman who is as short as 13/20 to keep only his second clean sheet of the campaign against Aston Villa?
When compared to Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton, Brad Guzan and Joe Hart (the division’s most miserly stoppers) on some counts Courtois’ statistics stand up.
In terms of combined punches and catches he’s roughly amid the pack, offering less area domination than the England duo, but more than the claret and blue pairing.
Yet his saves-per-goal ratio, that none-more-telling gauge of goalkeeping greatness, stands at just 1.17.
That’s substantially less than Heaton (2), Brad Guzan (2.67) and Forster (3.67).
Even Hart, the most directly comparable as a fellow Champions League blue blood net minder stops 1.75 efforts on target before being beaten this season.
So has deposed incumbent Cech been wrongly disposed off for an overhyped pretender?
Luckily it seems not, as last season Courtois’ saves-per-concession ration in 2013/14 La Liga action was a far less dubious 2.73.
As such it’s possible to draw the charitable conclusion that the 22-year-old merely requires some time to familiarise himself with his new teammates’ foibles in order to regain the stellar form he showed in Atletico’s conquest of the Clasico clubs.
Whether or not it proves to be the correct analysis, only time will tell.