Back in 2012, when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League, it felt like the culmination of Roman Abramovich’s ambitious and well-financed project in west London.
The Russian spent big to ensure that the Blues would become a force in English football before establishing themselves among Europe’s elite.
And though the way that they won the continent’s premier cup competition for the first time might not have been via the method many expected – with Roberto Di Matteo as the interim coach of a team that could at best be described as ‘cautious’ – few could argue that it was not deserved, after a succession of runs to the latter stages of the tournament.
Since that triumphant evening at the Allianz Arena, though, Chelsea’s stock in Europe has fallen somewhat.
They have only been past the last 16 of the Champions League once since 2012, with their semi-final appearance in 2014 the last time they got even remotely close to lifting the trophy.
The Blues have, to their credit, won the Europa League on two occasions in the eight years since Munich, but it is in the Champions League where the final judgement on Abramovich’s reign will likely be made.
Last season’s 7-1 aggregate defeat to Bayern in the first knockout round underlined just how far the Stamford Bridge outfit have fallen down the European pecking order.
Facing the Bundesliga giants for the first time since Didier Drogba’s finest night in a blue shirt, Frank Lampard’s team were given a footballing lesson across two legs by the eventual champions.
For much of the 180 minutes, they resembled a Europa League-quality side who were merely happy to still be in the competition, rather than a team with any expectation of reaching the last eight.
The hope is that this season will be different.