Chelsea may just be clinging on to a place in the Premier League’s top four despite the handicap of their summer transfer ban – but step into the rarefied atmosphere of the Champions League and they are brutally exposed.
And how they had their flaws shown up in the most emphatic fashion as they were taken apart far more emphatically by Bayern Munich than the 3-0 scoreline suggests in a Champions League last-16 first-leg tie that concluded in funereal silence at Stamford Bridge.
It reflected the mood. This tie is over. Chelsea can concentrate on the top four and the FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Liverpool here in seven days’ time. The Champions League dream has gone.
Football may produce the odd miracle but rarely on the scale Chelsea will require and while you can hardly say it is a mercy in the face of such a merciless destruction, they can count themselves very fortunate they will travel to Munich only three goals down.
Chelsea actually did well to navigate a way out of a Champions League group containing last season’s semi-finalists Ajax and Valencia. This, however, is the end of the road.