A chilling darkness was to be expected on this wintry evening but Chelsea had other causes to shiver. This after all was exactly the sort of occasion to give the Premier League leaders a true insight into their condition.
The outcome will be of particular encouragement to their closest pursuers, Manchester United, who are two points adrift, because it seemed to show that the losers may lack energy.
There is a cadre of veterans in Carlo Ancelotti's team and while their wisdom looked a great asset when Spartak Moscow were beaten 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Wednesday, they had not saved anything like enough vigour to withstand Liverpool. Fernando Torres, scorer of the goals, gave a magnificent display and his clincher was superb.
So far as schedules are concerned it is worth noting that the victors had a day's less rest after their European League win over Napoli. It might be sensible for the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, to treat this fixture as a window through which he could take a very clear view of the task to come.
There will be a need for rebuilding and although the vast means he employed after completing his takeover are not expected to made available again the cost could still be rather high.
Stirring as the teenager Josh McEachran is, there is no sight of a whole gang of fearless young men bursting through to seize their destiny. As it was, Ancelotti did not turn to youth when making his substitutions until the last of them, the 21-year-old Daniel Sturridge. A second loss in the League does not doom their bid to retain the title but it was a reminder that the scope for developing the side is restricted at present.
Although the addition of Torres would have been a spectacular opening to such a project for Chelsea, his employers hung on to him and that will be critical to the club's hopes. Liverpool looked tireless but when they eventually did retreat it was done to some extent on the grounds that Torres's goals had already been scored by the interval.
This outing marked a resurgence for the Spaniard. He had not struck twice for his club in any match since April. Torres had already been crucial to Liverpool in other respects during this campaign, but it was clear he was still a little short of peak form.
That may have reflected the aftermath of injury that had hampered him at the World Cup, even if a winners' medal must have been therapeutic. Chelsea should feel that they encouraged him further.
It was hard for them to cause any concern to Liverpool since Didier Drogba remained on the bench until the second half after suffering with a fever during the night. Even so, Chelsea's means should continue to be too great for that to be seen as a cause for despair and Nicolas Anelka could hardly be dismissed as a makeshift replacement. The Stamford Bridge side have suffered at this ground before but their anonymity in the opening 45 minutes came as a shock. Although the energy levels rose thereafter, it felt as if there was a mental fatigue.
Torres would have had any opponent making a mental note to check his pension plan but Chelsea were jaded for too long and a revival went unrewarded, with Drogba's effort breaking off José Reina and on to the bar.
It is only proper, all the same, to see the vigour of a confident Liverpool as the key factor. Their striker was uncontainable. Torres's return to health and multiple goal-scoring ways is a key factor contributing to the team's overall ability. That was certainly expressed in the confidence of a side clinching their fourth victory in a row.
Roy Hodgson's formation was bold by modern standards, with Torres accompanied by another outright forward in Dirk Kuyt. And indeed it was the Dutchman who released Torres to burst through from the right in the 11th minute and dink his finish beyond Reina.
The surprise in the remainder of the first half lay in the passivity of the visitors. Liverpool's glowing self-belief illuminated their second goal in the 44th minute. After Ashley Cole had lost his balance Raul Meireles found Torres and the striker beat Branislav Ivanovic before curving a beautiful shot across Petr Cech.
Chelsea, with Drogba introduced, were much improved but Liverpool had readied themselves to guard the lead, even if that had to entail an outstanding parry by Reina in the 66th minute from Florent Malouda after a cross from the substitute. There might even have been a third for Liverpool but Cech pulled off a save from Kuyt.
Hodgson remained phlegmatic when Liverpool looked incapable of winning a game and, conversely, will hardly suppose the club has now been transformed but the atmosphere in which he now works will be stimulating.
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.