Everton's debt is less than Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres, but the £47.6m burden still feels crushing, with no new stadium to dream of and an absence of interest from high-spending foreign speculators.
Chelsea have Roman Abramovich, Everton are led by the West End impresario, Bill Kenwright, of whom the manager, David Moyes, says: "The chairman's a great chairman, a great owner. I just wish he had a few bob as well."
But in a penalty shoot-out all men are equal, and here at Stamford Bridge the uber-reliable Phil Neville slapped Everton's fifth and final spot-kick into the roof of Petr Cech's net to send his team through to the FA Cup fifth round and condemn Chelsea to yet more introspection.
Into the void fell a club whose owner was forced by the Russian government this week to disclose his wealth and reeled off 16 houses and £11bn. One of those billets, in the Caribbean, cost Abramovich £56m: again higher than the Torres transfer fee. On Merseyside meanwhile the word on the street is that Everton will not be able to hang on to Jack Rodwell, who is coveted by Manchester United.
The summer could bring the young midfielder's departure to Old Trafford, with Moyes transferring his best hopes to Ross Barkley, another academy graduate. The loss of Steven Pienaar to Spurs last month confirmed a budgetary pattern and there is frequent speculation about wage costs needing to be trimmed to keep that £47.6m in check.
None of that seemed to matter in a fourth-round replay that was intense and dramatic. The best left-back in England (Ashley Cole) was usurped by his No2, Leighton Baines, who offered a textbook example of how wide defenders can apply forward pressure along a flank. Baines never let up.
Even better he equalised with a sweet free-kick 75 seconds from the end of extra-time. "A left-footed Beckham!" is how Arsenal's Jack Wilshere described the Baines curler in an admiring tweet.
Neither team will glue this season in an album. Chelsea now travel to Copenhagen for Tuesday night's Champions League second-round tie as early FA Cup casualties and Premier League title race stragglers. From fifth place, 12 points behind Manchester United, a possible exile in next season's Europa League beckons.
Carlo Ancelotti, their manager, revealed that Torres is undergoing special sprint training to improve his speed off the mark and all-round dynamism. This revives the spectre of Andriy Shevchenko having to work with Darren Campbell, the British sprinter. If you believe the gossip, Torres and Shevchenko were also both Abramovich buys.
With Torres Cup-tied there was life in the old Drog yet, Didier Drogba's first-half performance was of the old barnstorming type. He dropped off in search of possession, embarked on long ambitious dribbles and battled with Everton's fine centre-backs, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.
Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who botched his penalty attempt (as he did in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow) are out of contract in the summer of 2012. Drogba, now 32, was dropped in favour of Torres for last Sunday's 0-0 draw at Fulham and came out snorting here.
Everton were still chewing on a 2-0 defeat at Bolton, described by Moyes as the worst performance of his reign. "We've always been a side of high energy, really committed, though it didn't look that way last week," he said. "From the kick-off we were after Chelsea. I have to praise the players today. I thought they were immense throughout.
"We were never going to come here and dominate possession without them having chances. Leighton Baines was fantastic. I said coming here last time that Baines and Ashley Cole are the best two left-backs England have got and it doesn't change for me. I think Ashley Cole is the best and Leighton has worked very hard to get himself in the position where he's No2.
"When we got the free-kick I thought I saw Mikel [Arteta] pointing to take it and I thought: 'Oh, no!' – only because I thought it was made for Bainesy in that position. We needed something special."
Neville, also chased by Spurs in the January window, stepped up for the 10th penalty after Cole had scooped his over the bar. Moyes said: "When it went to penalties I said to Steve Round [his assistant] – Phil Neville will take No5. I just had a feeling today he should go last. His experience, his nous. He was someone who could handle the situation."
No longer the recipient of auto-veneration from Everton fans, Moyes invested this win with mood-altering qualities. "If we had beaten Bolton we'd have gone eighth in the Premier League and we'd have been talking about Everton coming with their usual late run," he said. "The manager and the players had a chance to change the perception of the club. We didn't do it. So it was good to send 6,000 home today with a much better feeling about their team and their club."
In one of his 16 houses, Abramovich will plot his next move in the overhaul of this faltering Chelsea team.