In Mendy, the Blues trust: Richard Buxton
Chelsea's new 'keeper, who faces his ex-club Rennes tomorrow, emulating Cech in keeping clean sheets
Edouard Mendy has not always appreciated his true self-worth in football.
Chelsea's goalkeeper previously considered turning his back on the game when no club wanted him and the only realistic option was to begin claiming unemployment benefits.
Those arduous days spent on the dole seem a lot longer than five years ago for Mendy.
So, too, do the five weeks since the Blues still boasted one of Europe's most porous backlines.
Frank Lampard's side owe their recent transformation to the arrival of the unheralded Senegal international as much capturing an evergreen Thiago Silva on a free transfer.
Mendy's modest £22 million (S$38.9m) signing from Rennes - his old club whom he will face in the Champions League tomorrow morning (Singapore time) - flew in the face of the more high-profile names being widely touted to replace a floundering Kepa Arrizabalaga.
What he lacks in fanfare is far outweighed by the growing stability within the Blues' backline. Gone is the skittishness which accompanied Arrizabalaga's routinely botched attempts to play out from the back and similarly haphazard attempts at shot-stopping.
A strong command has also become an early staple in the 28-year-old's skillset, with Kurt Zouma acknowledging the imposing presence that his new teammate offers in collecting the ball with ease while conversing on the pitch in both English and French.
Mental fortitude is another trait that sets Mendy apart from his much-maligned predecessor. Failing to save any of the penalties he faced in September's League Cup exit to Tottenham Hotspur did little to harm his confidence in the games thereafter.
From his opening six games, he has already recorded five clean sheets in all competitions, which includes three consecutive English Premier League shut-outs.
The last Chelsea custodian to achieve the latter feat has been casting a keen eye on the player's development before he pitched up at Stamford Bridge two months ago.
Petr Cech knows Mendy's career path better than most, having moved from Rennes himself as a relative unknown in 2004, and tracked the player for the past three years before volunteering his name to Roman Abramovich's brains trust over the summer.
In his current hybrid position as technical director and emergency goalkeeper, the four-time Golden Glove winner occupies a unique role of being able to impart a wealth of elite-level personal experience to Chelsea's latest custodian daily in training.
The Czech became a key constant in west London's glory years as a succession of trophy-winning teams were assembled literally in front of him during an 11-year period.
If his prediction that Mendy will only continue to improve on an already impressive start to life in the English capital bears out, the stars may finally be aligning for Lampard.
Mounting a title challenge no longer appears as far-fetched as it did at the beginning of this season, when Mendy was continuing to ply his trade in Ligue 1.
Liverpool and nearest challengers Manchester City are now displaying symptoms of the defensive fragility which had previously put paid to Chelsea's title aspirations.
The reigning champions' growing centre-back problems means their four-point lead over Lampard's well-heeled charges is anything but insurmountable at this stage.
A favourable run of fixtures also stands Chelsea in better stead than their contemporaries with just one of top-six rivals on the horizon before Christmas.
Building an upward trajectory, however, will be heavily reliant on Mendy continuing to keep opponents at bay, starting with his old club tomorrow.