If Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge of Chelsea was synonymous with the era of the "untouchables", the theme since his return this summer has been more about the "undesirables".
Mourinho has never been shy in letting players know just who is not in his good books and there was an impressive cast list of victims for this Capital One Cup third-round tie. Chief protagonist was Juan Mata, Chelsea's Player of the Year as voted by the fans for the past two seasons, but surprisingly playing second fiddle to Oscar this term.
There were many other significant names playing a supporting role, including David Luiz, who was left out of the squad against Fulham at the weekend, and players who have seen little action at all, such as Michael Essien, Ryan Bertrand and Cesar Azpilicueta. This was their chance to prove a point in front of their harshest critic.
Mourinho admitted earlier in the week that he does not know what his best team is, so clearly some places in the first XI are still available. For the hosts, League One Swindon, it was an opportunity to add to the angst of these individuals and going into the game boasting a seven-month unbeaten home record certainly gave them cause for confidence.
As always in cup ties like this, the gulf in class on paper was vast. Chelsea made 10 changes to form their "B" team and yet it was worth around £185m in transfer fees. In contrast Swindon's starting XI cost £550,000 – just over three weeks' worth of Fernando Torres' wages.
For the opening quarter, it appeared as if the men in blue were failing their audition and Swindon were happy to capitalise. One strong tackle from Yaser Kasim demonstrated their hunger for the occasion and, unfortunately, brought a premature end to Marco van Ginkel's evening as he limped down the tunnel.
A nervous clearance straight into touch from debutant keeper Mark Schwarzer and a reckless casual back heel from Luiz sparked some sign of frustration from Mourinho on the sidelines. But there was too much quality on show for Chelsea to be subdued for long and it was Mata who typically provided the spark that had not only been missing on the night, but arguably for most of the season so far.
A sublime through ball for Torres put the striker in on goal and only a superb save from Wes Foderingham denied him. Just two minutes later, Foderingham made another fine stop from Mata, but the rebound ran kindly for Torres to stroke the ball into the empty net.
Torres, like Mata, has good reason to be upset, given that he is the only forward to have found the net for Chelsea this season and yet has also been left out in the cold following Samuel Eto'o's arrival. He also played a major part in Chelsea's second, setting up substitute Ramires, who was replaced at half-time by John Terry, to chip home neatly.
However a sloppy second-half showing, which included a Dany N'Guessan header for Swindon being ruled out for offside, may mean Mourinho will still call on the "A" team for the tougher test at Tottenham on Saturday.
Man of the match Torres.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).
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- The Carling Cup