At some stage, early this week, those at the Football Association will cast their eyes over the match report submitted by Anthony Taylor, cross-referencing the referee's account with footage of José Mourinho making plain his disgust from just outside the technical area on the touchline, and consider some kind of sanction.
A warning letter, the governing body dispatching a written reminder of the manager's wider responsibilities, seems most likely. Mourinho, after all, had been sent to the stands apparently as a result of irresponsible conduct rather than abusive or threatening behaviour, his insistence on repeatedly leaving the dugout to complain eventually snapping the official's patience. The Portuguese has no recent previous, if only because he has been out of the country for six years. In the context of the referee's own rather slapdash afternoon, any harsher punishment would seem inappropriate.
And yet, while he cares not a jot at having his wrist slapped, Mourinho may reflect that the time had come regardless to ditch the Happy One tag adopted upon his appointment in the summer. This was management with a snarl, outraged as he was at perceived time-wasting by his opponents and too much dawdling by his own team. Cardiff City had impressed up to the interval as Chelsea rather drifted until Taylor allowed Eden Hazard's opener, mystifyingly, to stand. The home manager would have been infuriated by his own side's lack of focus and while they did improve after Oscar's introduction, it took another bold switch to three at the back to produce a lead.
But it was in the immediate aftermath of Samuel Eto'o's excellent first goal for the club that Mourinho's temper actually boiled over. The manager had sought to restore a left-back by introducing César Azpilicueta before the restart but while Cardiff were permitted to fling on Fraizer Campbell, the game resumed without Chelsea's substitute being given the green light.
The manager spun to berate his assistant, Steve Holland, focusing his ire on his own bench. "José was asking me did [the fourth official] have the card, did we do what we should've done?" said Holland, which was a very polite interpretation of the tirade to which he had been subjected. "I explained to [Mourinho] that we had. So it was down to the fourth official, not us."
Within minutes Mourinho had been sent to the stand, the referee irked by the reaction from the bench after he urged Branislav Ivanovic to hurry along with a throw-in. A theory did the rounds that Mourinho's tantrum had been for show, designed to rouse those out on the turf. "If you looked around, he had the whole squad behind him and the fans came into it too," said Ryan Bertrand, who had been replaced in the brief switch to a back three. "The manager has shown his spirit and desire about what's fair. It was good to see that passion."
Countering that was the reality that Chelsea, briefly, had wobbled in the passage after his departure before Cardiff's search for an equaliser left them prone for Oscar, splendidly, and Hazard to add gloss to the scoreline. "I don't think anybody really expects any manager to go through the season beaming from ear to ear," added Holland. "Last season we had good results against the top teams but dropped four points against the team relegated 20-odd points from safety, QPR. You have to be consistent if you want to be successful. That's what we're trying to do. We've had a deficit for the last two years to the champions, 25 points and 14, and that isn't just made up overnight. There has to be a change."
Sluggishness, even against newly promoted teams, will not be tolerated. Cardiff were impressive for long periods and even as they chased the contest, stretched the home side. The scale of this victory was flattering for the title contenders, although Malky Mackay must hope his club's owner, Vincent Tan, delves a little deeper than glancing at the scoreline when considering his own reaction to the defeat. Jordon Mutch was a constant menace, pouncing on David Luiz's dozy early error to clip them ahead. There was strength and presence in City's set-piece routines and energy in midfield. They actually departed heartened by their own display, even in defeat, which was encouraging after an unsettling few weeks.
As for Mourinho, he ended up sitting next to a supporter, Sean Buxton, in the stand before taking his leave altogether when Hazard's shot dribbled in. "He's taking the piss with the leg room," Buxton had tweeted as the manager growled at his side. This had been no time to strike up a conversation, perhaps pondering over David Luiz's display or that comical first goal. Better, instead, to let Mourinho simmer.
Man of the match Oscar (Chelsea)