In the end a cast of Champions League and even World Cup winners, assembled at a cost of around £180m, eased beyond League One opposition although José Mourinho departed Wiltshire thinking less about what he had learned and more about what he had lost. Marco van Ginkel will undergo a scan on a potentially serious knee injury while Ramires is also doubtful for Saturday's trip to White Hart Lane. Progress came at a cost.
The Brazilian had replaced Van Ginkel, the youngster having collided with Alex Pritchard to limp from the fray within 10 minutes of the start. The coaching staff's initial assessment was pessimistic and his loss to potential ligament damage was compounded by that of Ramires at the interval, with the Brazilian suffering discomfort at the top of his thigh. "He'll be a major doubt for the Tottenham Hotspur game," confirmed the assistant first-team coach, Steve Holland. "So we've ended up with two potential casualties."
That represented unwelcome news on an evening that was supposed to be about swelling the manager's first-team options. Mourinho had billed this as an opportunity for those cast into the shadows to demand more time in the limelight and, albeit predictably, some of his more forward-thinking players excelled.
Juan Mata, on a third start under the Portuguese, will have enjoyed conjuring in the No10 role denied him in the first-choice lineup by Oscar, while Fernando Torres seared beyond his markers at times to score one goal and set up the other.
Yet those positives were rather dulled by the losses to injury, most likely leaving Frank Lampard and Mikel John Obi as starters at Spurs, with Swindon's refusal to wilt ensuring the contest ended more as an exercise in pragmatism. David Luiz was thrust into midfield to replace his compatriot and a disrupted back-line was occasionally undone by the home side's sprightly performance and reliant upon Chelsea's oldest debutant in Mark Schwarzer. The Australian's sure handling, denying Pritchard, Yaser Kasim and Dany N'Guessan, belied a man approaching his 41st birthday.
By then the game had been won with a couple of first-half goals, for all the home side's huff and puff thereafter, with Torres in particular having left the management possibly pondering his inclusion at White Hart Lane. The Spaniard had already benefited from one slipped pass from Mata, with Wes Foderingham summoning a fine reflex save, when Ramires' trademark leggy burst left Swindon defenders lunging in desperately. The Brazilian skipped eagerly across the penalty area then fed Mata. His shot was pushed away at full stretch by the goalkeeper, only for Torres to beat retreating markers to the ball and convert from a tight angle.
The £50m forward remains the only Chelsea striker to have registered this season, though it was the reminder that he can also supply when offered time and space that really took the breath away. His turn of pace and glorious pass for a rampaging Ramires moments later secured the win, the midfielder clipping over Foderingham to convert. "It's the speed at which they do everything, executing their passes and their runs," said the Swindon manager, Mark Cooper. "That's what gets them out of tight places and sets them apart."
Mata's display was encouraging in its own way, the staff quick to point to a tackle near the byline deep into stoppage time as evidence that the penny has dropped. "The message to all our attacking players from day one has been they need to contribute offensively in terms of production: making goals, scoring chances, being a threat, but also contributing out of possession and defending," said Holland.
"Juan's made Fernando's chance early on, was involved in the goal, and then in injury time he's conceded the final corner of the game supporting Ryan Bertrand at left-back, which is how he was all night.
"There's no such thing as a luxury player these days. You can perhaps carry a luxury player in certain fixtures, but not many. And at the business end in major trophies, playing Bayern Munich or Barcelona, you need 10 players who can all contribute out of possession.
"But we're very pleased with Juan's contribution, with and without the ball. Similarly, Fernando's scored, had two other good chances and worked very hard for the team all night. That's the standard we're looking for across every position."
Those constituted the positives. The rather slapdash nature of Willian's display, the loss of one young fringe player and the potential absence of a key midfielder at Spurs represented a grimmer reality.