If, as seems likely, Chelsea have to do without John Terry for at least four domestic games in the near future, then Gary Cahill and David Luiz will need to form a far more solid partnership than was evident in the 4-0 Champions League victory away to Nordsjaelland in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
Terry and his advisers are waiting to see the full judgment from the Football Association tribunal that banned him for four matches for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand before he decides whether to appeal. Publication is expected shortly but whatever the outcome of the case, Roberto Di Matteo knows that Chelsea's defence cannot continue to be as lax as against the Danish champions.
"We always try to freshen up the team a bit where we have the options," was the manager's explanation for leaving Terry on the bench. He admitted that Petr Cech had to make a "crucial" save at 1-0, after which, with the home side cutting through Chelsea's defence and deserving an equaliser, Luiz had his one outstanding moment of the game. It came at the other end of the pitch, when he dipped a 25 yard free-kick past a helpless goalkeeper.
Two goals by the impressive Juan Mata and a tap-in by Ramires meant that Chelsea went top of Group E on goal difference from Shakhtar Donetsk, who they now face in a double-header. The Ukrainian side did well in drawing 1-1 away to Juventus, who need to take six points from their two games with Nordsjaelland to improve their prospects.