Juan Mata is not yet immortalised on a banner slung from the rafters of the Matthew Harding Stand. That honour is reserved for John Terry – "captain, leader, legend" – and "Super" Frank Lampard, as well as, more ominously, a Russian flag bearing the face of Chelsea's owner, along with the slogan, "The Roman Empire." They are the three central figures of Chelsea's first decade among the elite but the evidence that Mata will be key to the second is mounting.
It was no surprise that it was to the Spanish international that Chelsea turned to halt their slide into disarray. After all, he has been a constant among what Andre Villas-Boas has termed the "chaos" of this campaign. And so it was Mata who, against Wolves, set up the first two goals, crossing for Terry and Daniel Sturridge, before scoring the third himself.
The 23-year-old, it is fairly clear, is happy on the pitch in the Premier League, especially when confronted with opposition as feeble and as pliant as Mick McCarthy's team. Off it, his Facebook photography of his favourite parts of London – "I like the parks, Green Park and Hyde Park, and Camden, Notting Hill, Portobello Road" – proves he has settled into life in his new city with ease.
Mata would be forgiven for wondering quite what he had walked into after arriving from Valencia for £23m last: a club where the manager's post is rarely more than a caretaker position, where cliques dominate the dressing room, where autumn is destined to bring collapse. Such an image, he says, could not be further from the truth. Chelsea's players retain their faith in Villas-Boas, unwavering, undoubting; the manager's youth has helped bring the squad together, infusing the team with empathy, while his style, such a source of contention, is ideally suited to the mix of players.
"It is never easy to have a run of such negative results," Mata said. "But we all have a lot of faith in ourselves, in our coach, in the quality of the squad we have. We always knew that during the season we would have better moments than the one we have been through. The group has always stayed very united, and we have always been sure that the secret to enjoying success has been to stay strong.
"We have a good mix of players here, some who are physically strong, some with a lot of energy, all with a lot of quality, and in that mix of players there are two teams who can play the style the manager wants. We do not have any doubts about his style at all."
That has not always shone through, of course, in the last few weeks. Indeed, Villas-Boas is rather more circumspect than Mata when suggesting Chelsea have emerged from purgatory. True, it is now only four defeats in eight games but a victory against a Wolves team this callow is no portent of how the Portuguese and his side will stand up to sterner tests to come. Indeed, even in the most routine of wins, there was cause for concern Chelsea. At one end, Wayne Hennessey produced a string of fine saves but, at the other, Stephen Ward might have had a hat-trick. Chelsea may no longer be in crisis, but few clubs are so recidivist.
"The next month will define the pattern of the league and where teams will stand at the end of the season," Villas-Boas said. "We need to build on this victory. We play Tottenham, City and Newcastle in the next few weeks. If we do well, we can overtake them."
And, needless to say, Villas-Boas's own position would become more secure. His counterpart may have dismissed the notion that Villas-Boas might be under pressure as daft, but such is the reality of the Premier League. "He has come to a different league, has a wonderful command of English and it was never going to be an easy job," McCarthy said. "I think it is daft. I didn't want to be the catalyst for him picking up but I am full of admiration for him. I hope he proves everybody wrong."
If he does, Villas-Boas, too, might earn a banner. By that stage, though, it would have to hang alongside the one, inevitably, honouring Mata.
Scorers: Chelsea Terry 7, Sturridge 29, Mata 45.
Substitutes: Chelsea Lampard 6 (Meireles, 70), Torres (Drogba, 77), Bosingwa (Ivanovic, 77). Wolves Ebanks-Blake 5 (Milijas, 38), Forde (Zubar, 75), Guedioura (Fletcher, 83).
Booked: Chelsea Terry. Wolves Edwards, Henry.
Man of the match Sturridge. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Chelsea 59% Wolves 41%.
Attempts on target: Chelsea 11 Wolves 2.
Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Attendance 41,648.Reuse content