Roberto Di Matteo spoke of this being "a point gained", while his centre-half Gary Cahill insisted that a goalless draw at Arsenal actually maintained Chelsea's momentum. Given Newcastle's subsequent success against Stoke, a failure to emerge victorious from this London derby could yet end up costing Chelsea in their pursuit of the top four, although at present there is only encouragement to be drawn from a performance this resilient.
The focus inevitably drifted throughout to Tuesday's rematch against Barcelona, but a gruelling schedule is merely eliciting even grittier performances from Chelsea. This was their third daunting fixture in a week, following on from semi-finals in the FA Cup and Champions League, and yet a rejigged side offered up another resilient display. Only three of this side had started against Barça on Wednesday, and only Cahill and John Terry are expected to begin the return at Camp Nou, but this squad has taken up a collective defiance.
Arsène Wenger bemoaned the fact his opponents had used this occasion to rehearse their tactics for the midweek European trip to come, but it said much that the visitors, albeit still in sixth, departed the happier. After all, defeat might have cast them from the race altogether. "In the circumstances, we have to be pleased with a point away at the Emirates, and a point gained away from home," Di Matteo said. "It was a shame we missed the quality in the final pass, but this was a brilliant performance from this team.
"It wouldn't have been possible to have picked the same team as Wednesday night to win this match today. We've had two semi-finals and a trip to Arsenal in six days, a crazy schedule. Finishing fourth was always going to be a difficult task from the first day [since his appointment as André Villas-Boas's successor], but we're still in the running and we'll fight until the last day of the season to see if we can get in there. We have three home games to come and only one away from Stamford Bridge, so we'll hope still to make up some points. There's enough quality in this squad to compete [on three fronts]."
Chelsea's point was merited in this sluggish encounter but much will now depend on their ability to claim maximum points from home games against QPR, Blackburn Rovers and, perhaps critically, Newcastle. That last fixture will be played three days before the FA Cup final against Liverpool, with trip to Anfield a few days after the showpiece amid the cluttered schedule. This may not be the last time over the campaign's final weeks where Di Matteo is forced to chop and change, and when the side he selects cannot afford to slip up.
Of those deputees who featured here, Ryan Bertrand excelled at left-back, while Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu and Michael Essien – if now lacking the dynamism of old – were industrious in denying Arsenal space in which to muster some rhythm. At times, particularly in the first half, the home side simply ran aground, devoid of ideas and creation. They struck the woodwork twice when they should have scored but, much as in midweek, Chelsea are blessed with good fortune at present.
"It was cagey, but we are happy with the result," Cahill said. "A draw was a fair result and keeps up our momentum. The rest is now important for what will be a massive game on Tuesday."
He will expect another frantic evening in Catalonia, but Chelsea are growing used to squeezing strength from such occasions.