The most encouraging news for Chelsea, at the end of a hugely disappointing night, is that when they set about trying to overturn this deficit at Stamford Bridge next week there will almost certainly be no involvement for the man who likes to think of himself as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, superstar. There is, however, plenty to concern José Mourinho after a game that leaves the champions of Ligue 1 in a clear position of command.
Eden Hazard's first-half penalty at least offers a glimmer of hope but if Chelsea defend this generously again the bottom line is that it will almost certainly be their last match in this season's competition. They have chosen a bad moment of the season to start letting in soft goals and this defeat, on top of what happened at Crystal Palace at the weekend, threatens to have serious repercussions for their entire season.
The damage is still retrievable but it is difficult to be hugely optimistic when Mourinho clearly has so little trust in his strikers, with Fernando Torres increasingly becoming the scapegoat of choice, and especially now John Terry and his colleagues are starting to look unusually flaky. The problem with Torres is not a new one but Chelsea's success this season has been built on a parsimonious defence and once that lapses it highlights their other deficiencies all the more.
Terry was badly at fault as Ezequiel Lavezzi, the game's outstanding player, opened the scoring in the third minute. David Luiz, who had lost the ball in the buildup, inadvertently helped PSG regain the lead and there are two ways to look at what happened in stoppage time when the substitute Javier Pastore completed the scoring. One is that it was a goal of sheer brilliance, as Pastore wriggled clear of César Azpilicueta, then eluded Frank Lampard before letting fly with a low, angled shot. The alternative view is that it felt completely out of keeping with what we know about Chelsea on these nights.
Mourinho, naturally, took the second option, describing it as "ridiculous" and "a joke". His players, he said, had "enjoyed the third goal with Pastore", though it is also true that a goalkeeper of Petr Cech's experience will intensely dislike being beaten at his near post. Cech's part in the second goal will bring more scrutiny, the keeper barely reacting as a free-kick eluded everyone before striking David Luiz in the six-yard area. Defensively, it was rare to see Chelsea make so many individual errors at telling points.
Ibrahimovic suffered a hamstring injury which PSG's president later said would rule him out for two or three weeks but there was still plenty of evidence that the supporting cast are capable of causing difficulties. Lavezzi, in particular, took the game to Chelsea, taking his goal majestically, though it goes without saying Ibrahimovic's absence could be a significant setback for Laurent Blanc's team. One pass in particular to send Lavezzi scampering behind Gary Cahill was a reminder of the Swede's uncommon ability.
Marco Verratti was also forced off before the end but it is not encouraging for Chelsea when Mourinho's analysis involved emphasising the point, not for the first time, about it being "difficult for us to score goals". When the manager talked about not having a "real striker" everyone knew it was a dig at Torres. Chelsea can be encouraged that they overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit to overcome Napoli 5-4 on aggregate en route to winning the trophy two seasons ago. Yet Mourinho must be alarmed by their sudden vulnerabilities. They will also have to make do without Ramires in the return leg, suspended because of his yellow card for a first-half challenge on Lavezzi, the tormentor-in-chief.
It was a terrible start for Chelsea, who were losing before most of the players had a single grass stain on their kit, and Terry will have to take the blame because of the poor defensive header that presented Lavezzi with the ball inside the penalty area. The Chelsea captain, usually so assured in the air, did not get anything like enough distance on his clearance. Lavezzi controlled the ball on his chest, pulled back his left foot to take aim and his shot was still rising as it arrowed in off the underside of the crossbar.
The equaliser came on 27 minutes after Thiago Silva's sliding tackle had taken down Oscar for the penalty, and Chelsea were marginally the more threatening team for the remainder of the first half, almost taking the lead when Hazard sized up Willian's cross and cracked a left-volley against the far post.
For the most part, however, they did not have the same dynamism as their opponents. That, coupled with defensive lapses, was a bad combination. Lavezzi's free-kick led to David Luiz's own goal just a couple of minutes after Mourinho had accepted that the experiment with André Schürrle up front had not worked and Torres was given the chance to show it was wrong to leave him out. He had barely any impact and the momentum was back with the home side even after Ibrahimovic went down holding the back of his right leg.
It ended with Pastore collecting the ball on the right, beating one man, then another and lashing his shot past Cech. Mourinho immediately started shaking hands with everyone on the PSG bench and shaping up to leave, even before the final whistle. He does this quite often but, in this case, it felt like a man who was disgusted with what he had seen.