All falling empires go down defiantly so when Leicester City trot out at Stamford Bridge on Sunday we begin to discover if Chelsea's stunning Champions League comeback against Napoli was a final fling of the old guard.
With Roberto Di Matteo's side drawing Benfica in the quarter‑finals, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and company can see a passage to the final four and the temporary manager said of their hopes of also progressing in the FA Cup: "We've seen how difficult it's proven so far, our path in the Cup. With Birmingham, we had a replay, so we have to be aware that we need to perform at a very high level to be able to go through. The Cup is exciting because you have always to expect the unexpected."
As Nigel Pearson brings his inconsistent team to west London, Di Matteo recalls the replay they forced 15 years ago when the midfielder was a pivotal member of the Chelsea side that won the 1997 competition. "I remember we actually played Leicester as well at the time when I was playing," the Italian says of a 2-2 draw in which he scored before Chelsea won the replay, 1-0, after extra time. "It was very difficult."
After 120 minutes were required to beat Napoli 4-1 on Wednesday evening for Chelsea to progress 5-4 on aggregate, Di Matteo may rest a few players and Ryan Bertrand could be a beneficiary if Ashley Cole is stood down. "I was pleased with my performances in the Birmingham games, and hopefully I will get the opportunity against Leicester to show what I can do again," Bertrand said.
"I've noticed in the last couple of games, people said to me that I did well. But I thought there were a couple of things I needed to brush up on. That all comes if I'm playing regularly. I just have to deal with the situation and try to keep sharp for when I'm called upon.
"Leicester will come with a lot of hard work, desire, and they will really want to win the game. So we have to be up for it and make sure we match that."