It had actually been José Mourinho who first brought up Rosenborg and that dreary September night exactly six years ago when a Stamford Bridge crowd of under 25,000 had groaned at their team's desperate shortcomings. The visitors had led at the interval and, with John Terry playing up front for the last 20 minutes, survived 29 attempts at their goal of varying accuracy to secure an unlikely draw. The atmosphere at the end was dismal, the schism between manager and owner complete, and it would only be a little over 24 hours before Mourinho was dismissed. And to think the Champions League is supposed to be his competition.
The visit of FC Basel on Wednesday represents the start of a new chapter in the Portuguese's relationship with the European Cup. There is not the same urgent desire at Chelsea after the club broke their duck when Roberto Di Matteo's side, littered with key members of the first Mourinho era, lifted the trophy last year. The manager, too, has embraced the wider context of his brief, a long-termism which would have felt alien in 2007 when the chief executive at the time, Peter Kenyon, had offered mixed messages on the eve of that tie with the Norwegians: stressing the need to "build a dynasty" on the one hand while, on the other, claiming the Champions League twice in the next five years.
The second of those targets has already been missed but Mourinho, in accepting the chance to blood younger talent and build for the future, has taken on something akin to the former with real enthusiasm. "I could choose a team against Basel with the most experienced players, but I'm choosing one with four who are 22 or under because that's a core we need to develop," he said. "Let's see what happens. I have to focus not on the past but on the future. There's no obsession for me with this competition. No obsession for Chelsea. But I want to win it for a third time, and I want Chelsea to win it for a second time.
"This is the beginning of a process with us and the Champions League. We made history by winning it two seasons ago. Last year we made history by being the only champions to be eliminated from the group stage after six matches, and we ended up in a competition we didn't want to play in. This season we have some players with different experience, but the potential to win it.
"We have to build a team full of talented players without the experience and the football philosophy born of having worked together for a long time, going in one direction looking for an identity. The process has to end with a team, a philosophy, an identity, a style of play. If we win a match but not in the style we're trying to build, it's three points, one step up the table but one step back in the direction of our work. What we want to do is both things at the same time. If we'd gone to Everton [on Saturday], had a very bad match and, in the last minute, Leighton Baines had scored an own goal and we'd won 1-0, would we be happy? In normal circumstances, yes, but when you're trying to build something different? No."
That offered a context to what is statistically the worst start by a Chelsea side in the Roman Abramovich era, albeit one which would have seen the Londoners top the Premier League table on Saturday night had they prevailed at Goodison Park. The players have to accept the same long-term strategy and trust the vision, even if the management – and a notoriously demanding hierarchy – will still demand a level of success en route. Basel, beaten in last season's Europa League semi-final, may not appear particularly daunting opponents as the hosts kick-start their Group E campaign but they eliminated Tottenham Hotspur from Europe in April and, two years ago, progressed from their Champions League section at Manchester United's expense. Even so, a slip-up early in the group would feel damaging.
"The players have to accept the process," added Mourinho. "But, because of our nature and our DNA, and I know the nature of the club, we want to undertake the process and, at the same time, win. I'm not the kind of person to accept peacefully: 'Let's go for the process by not winning.' I don't think that's the best education. We want to put ourselves under pressure and win while we build at the same time. It's the worst start in 10 years. That's right. But I feel calm. No dramas." He had used that last phrase in his post-match summation after Rosenborg six years ago only to be proved wrong 24 hours later. This time all parties will see the bigger picture.