Sunday’s Community Shield saw Manchester City give Chelsea an unsavoury reality check ahead of the new Premier League season.
As attractive as Maurizio Sarri’s brand of football is, the Blues are going to take some time to adjust to it.
Unfortunately for the Italian, Chelsea are not renowned for giving their managers plenty of that.
Since José Mourinho revolutionised the Premier League in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, winning back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, Chelsea have built their success on a solid defensive core.
Make no mistake – they have almost always got what they needed at the other end of the field too, but their impenetrability has made them tick.
The last time they tried to completely overhaul their style of play and switch to a more Pep Guardiola-esque brand of football was under André Villas-Boas in 2011-2012 – and the Portuguese didn’t last a full season, having alienated several key figures in the dressing room.
It was an all too familiar tale for Chelsea, who have long since faced accusations of player power in their dressing room.
Granted, much of this has been speculation, but it certainly has looked from the outside as if they haven’t always played to their full potential under certain managers.
Reports suggest that Antonio Conte’s harsh treatment of Diego Costa hammered a nail into his coffin at Stamford Bridge.
Whether or not this affected player motivation wasn’t clear, but Chelsea looked low on morale all season.
Having been crowned Premier League champions merely a year earlier, they slumped to fifth place and dropped out of the Champions League.
Before that, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Villas-Boas, and even Mourinho himself, had endured seasons in which their players inexplicably slumped to well below their usual standard of play.
What made Sir Alex Ferguson special was that he was able to keep Manchester United motivated and performing to their full potential season in, season out.
If Chelsea are to make the transition from a big club to a world class football institution, they are going to need to appoint and empower a head coach who can emulate the Scot.
One who has shown his man-management ability is former Chelsea player and current France coach Didier Deschamps.
While in charge of Les Bleus, he has fallen out with the likes of Samir Nasri, Adrien Rabiot and Karim Benzema.
Nevertheless, the players he has picked have always given their all for him, and France have erased the memories of their nasty 2010 World Cup campaign – which saw a standoff between Raymond Domenech and his players.
Having been at the club before, Deschamps would have slotted in seamlessly at Stamford Bridge, which makes me wonder why Chelsea weren’t fighting tooth and nail to lure him back.
However, even if they did, their problems wouldn’t have been solved overnight. Every Chelsea boss in recent history has faced a slump – whether it came in their first season or later on.
Until Roman Abramovich sticks with a head coach through trying times and puts his faith in him for the long run, the Blues will continue to fall at the same hurdle.
By Leonard Solms