Without a win since 15 January and with record club debts bearing down on his shoulders, Jose Mourinho shambled into the Goodison Park press room and mumbled an apology. Yes, and pigs were doing loop-the-loops in the skies over Merseyside.
A replay? "No Problem." The match? "Our control was fantastic." The Everton goal? "Out of context." If the Chelsea manager gets some confidence English football really will be in trouble.
The art of winning trophies is managing your dips. Manchester United used to get theirs over before Christmas, Chelsea appear to be going through theirs with the Premiership all but won and with the Champions' League not due to start again for three weeks. The Special One's powers surely don't extend to timing mediocre form too?
You ask, because his side are not playing anywhere near the height of their powers. They drew at home to Charlton Athletic last week and one regular Chelsea watcher could not remember when they had last played as poorly as they did in the first half of this fourth-round FA Cup tie. But if you are going through a bad patch it helps if you are playing an Everton side so depleted their manager, David Moyes, feared having to use his substitutes.
Victor Anichebe made it on to the pitch in the last minute, but Patrick Boyle (18) and Mark Hughes (19) were spared facing the champions. "They're young boys - they've got a chance," a relieved Moyes said. "But it's too early for them. We needed people who knew the game and who had been in those situations before."
No one personified that more than Phil Neville whose versatility now extends to playing at centre-back and who did as much as anyone to repel the stellar talents from Stamford Bridge to force a replay on 8 February. "He was terrific," Moyes said. "I was fearful when he had to be there, but he's played in so many positions and he's so reliable he tends to make the right decisions."
He did, but, for a successive Saturday, so did most of the Everton team. Against Arsenal, they ran and tackled the Gunners into cul-de-sacs, but against Chelsea it was a more thoughtful approach. Mourinho changed his formation three times but Moyes countered and, at times, it was like watching chess grandmasters moving their pieces round the board.
"Anyone who has played Chelsea knows you have to adapt," Moyes said. "They have ammunition they can bring on to liven things up." Chelsea certainly needed something in this game, because they appeared to be running out of ideas as they tried to recover from going a goal down to James McFadden. Arjen Robben was doing terrible things to both full-backs but with Hernan Crespo erratic and Carlton Cole struggling with a groin injury, it appeared Everton would survive until Frank Lampard made one of his signature runs.
The wonderful thing about him is the simplicity. Lampard gave himself space with a touch of his right foot in the 73rd minute and then beat Nigel Martyn with a powerful low shot with his left. It looks easy, but if it was, every half-decent midfielder would match his tally of 25 goals in the last 12 months.
Thanks to Lampard, Chelsea got the replay their dominance deserved and the expectation is they will reach the last 16. Everton, though, are prickly opponents at the worst of times and they are almost certain to field a stronger side at Stamford Bridge. They could hardly be weaker.
Goals: McFadden (36) 1-0; Lampard (73) 1-1.
Everton (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Neville, Valente; Osman, Davies (Anichebe, 89), Arteta, Kilbane; McFadden (Naysmith, 55), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Hughes, Boyle.
Chelsea (4-3-1-2): Cudicini; Johnson, Gallas, Terry, Del Horno (Duff, 60); Maniche (C Cole, 60), Makelele, Lampard; J Cole (Huth, 74); Crespo, Robben. Substitutes not used: Cech (gk), Diarra.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Chelsea Gallas, Huth.
Man of the match: Robben.
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