Chelsea's fate in this competition has been ripped from their hands and with it will surely go the European Cup. Roberto Di Matteo had demanded a show of strength but in the end his fading champions were merely overwhelmed, battered into submission by a dominant Juventus who can sense their own progress. The London club's defence, not for the first time, seems in tatters.
A slim chance of reaching the knock-out remains, though Juve need only avoid defeat in Donetsk next month to join the Ukrainians in the last 16. While this is no time for conspiracy theories, a draw might be convenient for both.
Di Matteo shivered alone amid the tumult on the touchline, the bravery of his decision to omit the fitful Fernando Torres from his starting lineup forgotten with deficiencies gaping throughout his team. They would surely have been overrun regardless of the Spaniard's presence. This was ragged, dismal and, by the end, utterly conclusive.
It was hard to equate the limp display with those that had claimed the trophy in Munich back in May, when Chelsea had bristled with resolve and unswerving belief. How they craved the authority of a John Terry, or the steadying influence of Frank Lampard in midfield, but Di Matteo had been denied both.
Instead, they wilted as they had under André Villas-Boas in Napoli last February, stretched down either flank, a muddle through the centre, and with Petr Cech's defiance eventually swept away in the chaos. There had been bold decisions that night in Naples, too, with Michael Essien and Ashley Cole omitted to raised eyebrows. The risk did not pay off for the Portuguese and neither did it for Di Matteo. This team do not seem capable of resisting sides who cut swathes at such pace.
The second goal perhaps best summed up their vulnerability, Mirko Vucinic dragging David Luiz from the centre and feeding a marauding Kwadwo Asamoah on the inside. The Ghanaian cut his pass back intelligently for Arturo Vidal, one of two Juve players free on the edge of the area, to hit an attempt at goal, the ball flicking off Ramires, standing in Cech's eye line, and fizzing through the goalkeeper's legs.
Sebastian Giovinco's third, poked beyond an advancing Cech from distance with the visitors overcommitted upfield, merely confirmed the Italian champions' dominance. Chelsea had not lost by a three-goal margin in this competition for 12 years. This was a rout.
The frustration was that while Torres' omission had drawn the focus, Di Matteo's selection had been geared towards achieving solidity in the absence of influential older heads. César Azpilicueta had been positioned ahead of Branislav Ivanovic to offer the Serb greater protection. Cole did not enjoy the same shield on the opposite side, where Juan Mata's instincts are always further forward, but even then they were breached far too easily. This was a 10th match in succession without a clean sheet and the central defensive partnership of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, so often a first-choice pairing given Terry's regular absences, has yielded 20 goals in the 10 games they have started this term.
The narrow back-line invited raids on the outside, and there is little security being offered up by Ramires and Mikel John Obi in central midfield. Stephan Lichtsteiner, darting beyond Cole on to Vucinic's clipped cross, forced Cech to tip on to a post at their first attack. Nullifying Vidal and Lichtsteiner was asking too much of the full-back, who later scrambled David Luiz's header from his goal-line, though by then Chelsea were playing catch-up.
Fabio Quagliarella had stuck out a leg in hope rather than expectation as Andrea Pirlo drove from distance, with Cech's momentum having carried him too far to his right. He scrambled desperately to make amends but as he dived, could only reach the ball with the fingertips of his left hand and they were breached.
In defeat, the politics of Torres' omission take on greater significance. Patience has clearly snapped with the Spaniard, who has offered so little over recent weeks as the team stumbled through two wins in eight matches. All those bold pledges that the new Chelsea would be built around the £50m British-record signing have been exposed as hopelessly optimistic. This was the most significant game of their defence so far and yet he was required for only 19 minutes, the second of Di Matteo's substitutes after Victor Moses. That was damning, though it remains to be seen how the hierarchy will react.
Daniel Sturridge's tweaked hamstring the night before left Eden Hazard leading the line, the Belgian almost benefiting from Oscar's wonderfully weaved first-half run from deep inside his own half only for Gianluigi Buffon to save at his near-post. Mata, too, forced the goalkeeper to block from close range, but those attempts were squeezed out on the break, amid frantic Juve pressure. For Chelsea the likelihood is the Europa League awaits. At present, that feels ignominious.