José Mourinho let the worst kept secret out over the weekend so that those Chelsea fans who reviled Rafael Benítez can roll out the blue carpet for the return of their most revered manager.
Mourinho won five trophies in three seasons in west London in what became a fractious spell as his relationship with the club's hierarchy deteriorated to such a dismal degree Chelsea replaced him with Avram Grant. Since his September 2007 ejection, seven managers have come through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge but Roman Abramovich's quest perfection is still to be sated.
Roberto di Matteo's remarkable Champions League triumph was tainted by how undeserved it was as the Munich final resembled Roarke's Drift. "I did it!" exclaimed Di Matteo as he greeted Abramovich after receiving his winner's medal. That would have gone down about as well as Siamese vodka with the Russian.
The irony in jettisoning someone with a subtle arrogance is that Abramovich has turned to a man who said, exactly nine years and one day ago, "I'm a top manager. I think I am a special one."
Nine years is a lifetime in football and Mourinho returns to Chelsea with his tail between his legs. He neither failed nor succeeded in Madrid, but last season was his first trophyless term as a manager since 2001-02 and he did not deliver La Décima. His relationship with the club became so bitter he amusingly excluded nuisance Iker Casillas from the squad for Madrid's final match against Real Osasuna.
Including Mourinho's final full season with Chelsea in 2006-07, they have won the Barclays Premier League just once. That's three times out of a possible 10 since Abramovich's helicopter landed on the Bridge pitch in 2003, which is a poor return for a club that has spent over £1 billion strengthening and improving its squad in that time.
Another caveat in Mourinho's homecoming is his style. Ideally Pep Guardiola would have shed his morals and accepted Abramovich's offer after Di Matteo was sacked in November but the Barcelona obsession has come to a halt with Mourinho, ostensibly the antithesis of everything the Catalans oozed.
The consensus Chelsea were negative under the Portuguese was misguided, despite low domestic scoring records in his three terms, and his Madrid side were arguably more enjoyable and watchable than Guardiola's Barcelona. His task on this occasion is easier, since Chelsea's hegemony has taken in 11 trophies in eight years and the squad merely requires some fine-tuning. It's how he does it which matters most.
WHAT DO THEY NEED?
Centre-backs. Mourinho's first spell at Chelsea featured John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho's superb defensive partnership and Chelsea have not boasted such a secure pairing since. Terry is a liability, Branislav Ivanović is 30 next year, David Luíz isn't wanted and Gary Cahill is just fortunate to be at the club. Mourinho needs two quality defenders to improve the team's spine.
Defensive midfielder. Work on the spine continues into midfield, where Chelsea lack someone to shield the back four. Ramires is an excellent box-to-box midfielder and Frank Lampard will continue his goal-getting knack but as a duo they are often exposed. John Obi Mikel, a nondescript misfit Mourinho paid £16m for, has never been - and never will be - the solution and Oriol Romeu is too injury-prone. Benítez temporarily had a solution in Luíz but the Brazilian isn't likely to be at the Bridge for much longer.
Striker. Proof that stats are distorting comes via Fernando Torres' 22 goals last season. This respectable total masks what was another poor campaign for a striker whose fruitful two years in a Liverpool shirt are at risk of being regarded as a fluke. Romelu Lukaku deserves to start ahead of Torres but ideally Chelsea would field an established figurehead with Champions League experience.
WHO COULD THEY BUY?
Mats Hummels. Despite a nerve-ridden Champions League final Hummels remains one of European football's outstanding centre-backs. That he signed a new deal with Borussia Dortmund last year is, as Mario Götze showed, also irrelevant.
His aversion to a Bayern Munich return is good news for BVB and Chelsea, who may also be interested in his partner at the Westfalenstadion...
Neven Subotić. Unlike Hummels, Subotić was excellent at Wembley. Despite the final scoreline and Arjen Robben bottling it, his goal-line clearance was worthy of the celebration Jürgen Klopp produced and he is a formidable, yet cultured, centre half.
Like Hummels, he is only 24, speaks good English and would improve Chelsea's defence. Borussia rejected a Blues bid two years ago, but Subotić inked a new deal in January.
Marouane Fellaini. However effective he was as a striker Fellaini was played out of position at Everton under David Moyes, who admitted last month defensive midfield was the Belgian's best position.
Eager to leave Everton after five years, his contract includes a £24m buy-out clause, which seems a snip for "Mourinhovich" Chelsea.
Edinson Cavani. Prolific in Italy with Napoli, Cavani has several admirers on the continent and put Chelsea to the sword with the Neapolitans in the Champions League last year. The Neapolitans' chairman Aurelio de Laurentiis says he will cost £54m, which would beat Chelsea's £50m they paid for Torres in 2011.
Robert Lewandowski. The Poland striker will almost certainly leave Borussia Dortmund with a year left on his contract, which makes him a relatively economical option compared to Cavani.
Second behind only Cristiano Ronaldo in the list of Champions League top scorers, Dortmund would be keen to offload him to anyone but Bayern Munich, who poached Götze in April.
Wayne Rooney. Mourinho gave a typically amusing soundbite when asked about the possibility of signing Rooney after he handed in a transfer request to Manchester United in October 2010.
"I believe he is going to stay. But if at the end of day Man United decides that he is to leave, give me a call."
Back then Rooney did a U-turn within three days of Ferguson confirming he wanted to leave. Plenty of clubs will be keen to sign the 27-year-old, but his supposed aversion to playing abroad makes Chelsea an attractive option should he exit Old Trafford this time.
WHO COULD THEY SELL?
Hilário. What Alexei Smertin was to Abramovich, Hilario was to Mourinho. Deadwood that can easily be chopped away.
John Terry. Mourinho is perhaps the only manager who could get away with flogging a defender adored by Chelsea fans. The captain's extravagant wages - earned by virtue of him flirting with Manchester City in 2009 - would free up funds for targets.
David Luíz. One of Rafael Benítez's success stories, this reason alone makes the petty-but-funny Mourinho's desire to sell the Brazilian logical. Luíz could command a hefty £30m transfer fee.
John Obi Mikel. Chelsea would do well to receive £600,000 for a £16m player who signed a contract extension until 2017 last December.
Mikel has contributed little in his seven years with the Blues and is easily bulldozed by opposition midfielders, making him an expendable squad member.
Marko Marin. With André Schürrle bound for the Bridge and Kevin de Bruyne progressing on loan, Marin's future at the club is bleak. A peculiar signing in the first place, it would be prudent of Chelsea to cut their losses and get a decent fee before he becomes another Florent Malouda.
Fernando Torres. Two-and-a-half-years on, and Torres has won an FA Cup, a Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea, but it is a period which stands out as the most feckless and forlorn of his career.
He admitted it got so bad he didn't care whether Chelsea won or lost, and Mourinho should reward Romelu Lukaku for his excellence at West Brom rather than persist with Torres.