It is never too early for dark speculations at Stamford Bridge. At most clubs it would seem absurd even to doubt a new manager before November is behind him but it does matter that Chelsea are a dozen points off the lead in the Premier League and André Villas-Boas's side will not be in the top four should Tottenham Hotspur so much as draw at home to Aston Villa on Monday.

That, in itself, would scarcely be a decisive blow but the brooding about Chelsea would then intensify. While Villas-Boas is not in torment, yet the Champions League programme will become complicated should there be a defeat at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday. The arrival of Liverpool denied Chelsea an opportunity to recover their poise.

It would be wrong to portray Kenny Dalglish's side as saboteurs. They may not have been in the ascendancy throughout the match but they did reach the heights with a neat winner in the 87th minute. Charlie Adam's piercing pass was collected by the former Chelsea right-back Glen Johnson, who went past Ashley Cole before shooting into the far corner of the net.

There is something incongruous about so worldly a squad as Chelsea's being taken advantage of in that manner. The brittleness will be cured only when the steel returns to the midfield as well as the back four.

The losers, all the same, should not be entitled to hog the attention. Liverpool were never cowed and did not need the £35m Andy Carroll to make an impression in attack, although he was introduced as a substitute in the 89th minute.

Chelsea had a protective approach of their own towards Fernando Torres, who had come on during Spain's friendly in Costa Rica last Tuesday. His introduction in this match must have been made reluctantly since there were only six minutes to go when he took over from Didier Dogba, but the late impact came from an entirely unanticipated source.

Perhaps, all the same, there should not have been such surprise at the impact of a full-back. For the time being, plenty of players ought to assume that their moment might come at Stamford Bridge. That sort of mood would have been delusional until the present spell but Chelsea are so fragile that only the three clubs in the relegation places have been breached as often or more at home in the League than Villas‑Boas's men.

There was, however, much more to be taken from Stamford Bridge than evidence of Chelsea's disquiet. Liverpool, goalless at home to Swansea City in their previous outing, had not suggested that they would cause such satisfying havoc despite the fact that their record here has been impressive in recent years.

Even Dalglish might not have anticipated the vulnerability. After all the years of defensive stringency, it is incongruous to witness so brittle a line-up. Mikel John Obi, the defensive midfielder, was guilty of a crass error in letting himself be dispossessed deep in his own half by Adam. Craig Bellamy and Luis Suárez then combined, before Maxi Rodríguez rounded off the attack with a composed finish in the 33rd minute.

Chelsea did persevere and levelled after 55 minutes when Florent Malouda directed the ball towards the far post and the substitute Daniel Sturridge capitalised. The match could have been transformed in that spell but Pepe Reina made an outstanding save to get down to a header from Branislav Ivanovic, who was miserable and unsure when trying to attend to his normal duties in defence.

The hosts had been spasmodic at best. It typified them that the main piece of menace before half-time should be a set piece. The free-kick from Didier Drogba curled and looked as if it would creep inside the post instead of hitting the side netting. That was an uncommon moment of anticipation for the home crowd.

It makes sense that Chelsea should try to regain the solidity of old as a starting point but in this fixture they were forced to try to equal or outdo Liverpool in that regard. At that stage they seemed totally unconnected to the squad that ran up 103 goals to make themselves champions.

The concern for Abramovich will lie in the fact that there has been plenty of outlay since then that has somehow failed to constitute the makings of a new line-up that can match the established one. Blend and rapport are still out of reach if this defeat is dependable evidence.

Liverpool themselves have been embracing recent change, yet their circumstances are not so fraught. Great as the Anfield club are, no one there has anticipated domination in the near future. Chelsea expect much of themselves right now.

The trend at the club has been for immediate domination. Should a more patient approach be needed, it will be hard for Chelsea to embrace it. Villas-Boas's success at Porto was remarkable but much more will be asked of him in London. He should not count on patience.