José Mourinho cracked a smile on a torturous evening at Goodison Park when reminded that his Chelsea "homecoming" was portrayed as the magic wand for past grievances and future happiness at Stamford Bridge. His response, in keeping with the Chelsea performance, was to shatter the illusion it can be 2004 all over again.
Nine years ago his first Chelsea reign began with a relentlessness that would deliver the club's first league title in 50 years by the season's end. Four points were dropped in the opening eight games, a measly seven from the first 39 available, with defeat only arriving in mid-October at Manchester City. Five have been dropped so far this term, after Steven Naismith's header gave Roberto Martínez his first Premier League win as Everton manager but statistics alone do not illustrate Chelsea's vulnerability. So do the range of striking options available to their manager.
"We are not unbeatable," said Mourinho in reply to the pre-season expectations his return inflated at Chelsea. "This is a different profile [to 2004]. This is a different team. I came here to work – I won't say peacefully because I am the first one that does not like to work peacefully – but to work with time, to develop the players and play the best they and we can.
"We have to be effective, be adult and not be naive. That is what we have to work on. We have to transform the beautiful football we played into goals."
Beautiful football was stretching it. Everton should have devised their own downfall in the first half, only for several glaring Chelsea misses, from debutant Samuel Eto'o and André Schürrle in particular, and the luxury of a 45th-minute lead to provide for a gradual but impressive improvement. Anchored by their own debutant, the outstanding Gareth Barry, and tireless displays from Naismith, Leon Osman, Kevin Mirallas, plus a resolute defence, Everton's composure and discipline grew in tandem with the noise levels at Goodison.
Chelsea provided a contrast. In control for an hour and aggrieved Oscar was refused a penalty by referee Howard Webb, the visitors became increasingly ragged and assisted the Everton cause with hopeful crosses towards the tiring Eto'o. Mourinho's decision to replace Juan Mata with Oscar after 57 minutes did not have the desired effect either. Chelsea's bench would be the envy of most, with no room for new £30m signing Willian, but in terms of changing style and competing with Everton's central defence for physicality, choices were limited.
"This what we have and I am happy with that," insisted Mourinho. "I am happy to work the team in that direction and it is good to see some moments and movement we had in the game. There were some fast combinations and it was very nice but it is also very nice when the ball touches the net."
Mourinho did possess a powerful alternative until recently – Romelu Lukaku – but the vagaries of modern football meant the Belgium forward paraded in an Everton shirt before kick-off, having joined on loan on deadline day, with Chelsea fans joining the applause. "It is not our squad, it is not our profile, it is not the way we are going to play. No chance," he added. "Drogba? He plays for Galatasaray. Drogba made his history here and Drogba is gone. Now there is no Drogba. We have a different profile of player and have to play according to the qualities of these players. They [Lukaku and Drogba] are not the same profile. They are completely different."
The prospect of Lukaku replacing Nikica Jelavic merely adds to the encouragement at Everton, one of only two unbeaten teams in the Premier League alongside Liverpool. Martínez described the performance as "one of my proudest moments" but even his innate optimism recognised the flaws that were encapsulated by Tim Howard rolling a needless pass straight to Schürrle. He found Eto'o, who seemed certain to mark an initially lively display with the opening goal until Barry produced a defining tackle. "Schürrle should have passed it faster," said his simmering manager. Everton were reprieved. Ross Barkley released Osman on the stroke of half-time, he floated a cross to the far post for Jelavic, who headed back across Petr Cech for Naismith to convert at close range on his 27th birthday.
Everton possessed the clinical edge that Chelsea lacked, plus an understanding between Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin that David Luiz and John Terry do not. With Martínez making light of absences in attack to deploy Mirallas as a productive lone striker in the closing stages and introducing young John Stones rather than John Heitinga to shore up proceedings, the manager's input proved significant.
"I think this could be the most open Premier League season," said Barry. "When you looked at it pre-season you saw the top three teams had all changed their managers and that's set it up. Nobody is that stable and nobody looks like they will run away with it. That means there could be a surprise this season and from an Everton point of view we want to get into the mix and finish as high as we can."
Man of the match Gareth Barry (Everton)