Chelsea edged all that bit closer to retaining their Premiership crown with a comfortable 2-0 success over a Manchester City side that were reduced to ten men at half time when captain Sylvain Distin saw red.
Didier Drogba stole the headlines with a two-goal salvo but City were left enraged after the Ivory Coast international used his hand to control for his second, in an incident that eventually led to Distin's dismissal.
The opening 45 minutes were very much all about that man Drogba, a player who elicits differences of opinion like few others and on Saturday, his performance will have delighted or enraged depending on your favoured shade of blue.
In only the fifth minute Drogba had put the ball in City's net, only to see his effort chalked off for offside, before Eidur Gudjohnsen got his bearings all wrong in pulling wide of goal when put through by Frank Lampard.
As Stuart Pearce's makeshift City side - shorn of ten players through injury and suspension - chased Chelsea's effervescent shadows, Ricardo Carvalho stepped up from the back to force David James to parry over for a corner, with the England keeper then excelling again in denying Drogba's snapshot from Lampard's set-up.
On a rare attacking foray Danny Mills cut inside from the right to force Petr Cech to parry his long distance drive before Drogba went up the other end and delivered an opening goal that in truth, was a just a question of time for the home side.
It could, though, have been all so different for just minutes before his first strike of the afternoon Drogba had been poleaxed by Mills, who had recklessly kicked the ball against the shins of the African.
Bravely he continued and then showed the more savoury aspect of his game on the half hour mark, taking Gudjohnsen's slide rule pass in his stride before turning David Sommeil inside-out and then lashing past James from the penalty spot.
Just three minutes later and Drogba grabbed his second in controversial circumstances. After James saved brilliantly low to his left to deny a John Terry header from a Chelsea corner, Joe Cole fired a loose ball across City's goal, Asier Del Horno headed it back from left to right and after controlling with his hand - Drogba fired home from six yards.
City were rightly incensed but their protestations yielded little sympathy from referee Rob Styles, who instead elected to book Distin and Kiki Musampa.
City's woes were then compounded at half time as Distin, still fuming, elected to continue his remonstrations only to be given short shrift from Styles - who somewhat harshly pulled out a second yellow card.
The second half, predictably, was played largely in City's half but Pearce will be pleased enough with the exertions of his players who were committed in their exertions despite holding little hope of getting back in the game.
Pearce would barely have had time to get back in the dugout when Chelsea nearly grabbed a killer third, but Micah Richards' fine challenge on Gudjohnsen spared his side further disappointment.
Cole will have been disappointed he could only find the grateful arms of James when looking to cap a fine move from the home side before Mills struck the base of Chelsea's post with a fine curling effort from distance.
Thereafter and Shaun Wright-Phillips was introduced for his first appearance against his former club and the diminutive wide man could have got on the score sheet when he lashed across goal but it was another substitute, Hernan Crespo, that should have certainly netted when Drogba found him six yards from goal but his header was wayward.
Chelsea spent the rest of the game pressing for a third, Drobga had another dramatic episode of pounding the floor in agony after he was flicked in the eye but overall, Jose Mourinho will be content with a competent display from his champions-elect.
Chelsea v Manchester City player ratings
|Chelsea||Team Name||Manchester City|
|8||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||3|
|7||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||0|
|5||Total Fouls Conceded||11|