Four matches in 14 defining days now stand before André Villas-Boas as the serious work of rewriting the verdict on his hopes as Chelsea manager begins.
Liverpool (in the Carling Cup on Tuesday), Newcastle United (league), Valencia (Champions League) and the league visit of Manchester City on 12 December will define how much festive cheer courses through Villas-Boas and his band.
"We can," Villas-Boas said when asked if Chelsea can still win the title. "It was important for us to get the three points, we managed to shorten the distance to Manchester United and Newcastle but for us to be a threat we need to continue to win. We have the game against Newcastle [on Saturday] and the game against the leaders to show that we are a quality side. Let's wait and see."
For Villas-Boas, December will be the defining month, with Tottenham Hotspur also on the horizon: "It's very important – we have the Champions League fixture to play, but the rest are league fixtures and December can have a part to play in the pattern of what is going to happen in the Premier League. We need to have a good December."
After the talk of "high lines" and philosophies never dying, Villas-Boas took a step away from the gallows with this win. So had the pressure now eased? "It doesn't take pressure off me. We have to continue to grow as a team," he said.
The match had been as close to a banker as any side who had last won at home a month ago can have. Wolverhampton Wanderers were supine and ended the first half 3-0 down, with the spectre of a real drubbing on the cards.
Frank Lampard had been dropped – to allow Oriol Romeu a full league debut – which, after the defeats preceding this encounter, made him appear the scapegoat. According to Villas-Boas, this was not so. "Selection was based on freshness and, regarding Lamps, also that he was carrying four yellows and we are counting on him against Liverpool," he said, before laughing off the suggestion that a late card for John Terry had been accrued deliberately to ensure he misses Tuesday's Carling Cup encounter and is clear for the league clash at Newcastle.
Fernando Torres remained dropped – his stock is so low now that a murmur was barely raised – although the crowd sang for him to appear well before he finally emerged on 77 minutes, with Villas-Boas clear that he, not supporters, decides when changes are made.
Fortune was shaped Chelsea's way but Nenad Milijas offered them a hand after seven minutes to send Mick McCarthy ballistic. The midfielder's dawdle near halfway allowed Ramires to pilfer the ball and when the Brazilian advanced, his 25-yard shot drew a fine save from Wayne Hennessey. McCarthy's fury became despair when, from Juan Mata's corner, Terry headed home, the ball taking a deflection from Stephen Ward.
The Wolves manager said the opening goal had been the root cause of their problems. "There was no air of confidence around the place, more an air of foreboding," McCarthy said. "But hey-ho, we soon released that. A poxy corner and they scored off it."
After 29 minutes, Chelsea fashioned a superb second, though again Wolves made this easy, allowing yards of space down the left, as they did throughout the match. Ashley Cole found Raul Meireles, who moved possession to Mata and from his precise cross Daniel Sturridge, making a poacher's run, slotted the ball home. Just before the break, Chelsea had their third. Didier Drogba surged forward and when his shot was blocked he turned the ball back to Cole. The left-back's delivery was smacked home by Mata and Villas-Boas punched the west London air again.
His orders at the break will have been more of the same, with no defensive snoozing. Ramires provided the forward thrust, blazing a shot that the excellent Hennessey plucked from the air in the old style: two-handed.
There was a rare scare at the back for Chelsea. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, on for the disgraced Milijas, threaded a ball through from midfield and Ward slipped easily away from David Luiz before placing his shot wide. There were other concerns: when possession was lost near him, Sturridge was scolded by Villas-Boas.
And, when the same player made a quicksilver burst into the area and flipped the ball across goal, Drogba nor any other colleague was anywhere near.
Villas Boas also confirmed that Roberto di Matteo is happy to stay as his assistant following speculation regarding his future.