Mourinho's tactical masterclass
United boss spot on with his tactic of shackling Hazard and Costa, and placing his trust in Rashford
Although the EPL table suggests otherwise, Jose Mourinho continues to prove that "Judas" is still No. 1.
Wherever there is a scent of glory in the air, the Manchester United manager remains on hand to pop the balloons and dampen the confetti - it is what he has always done best.
Chelsea may have moved past his five-month meltdown which ultimately derailed their previous campaign, but they are yet to step out from his shadow.
A 2-0 win over his former club yesterday morning (Singapore time) has offered Tottenham a faint hope of closing the gap on the champions-elect.
Once again, the Blues' former manager threatens to be the party-pooper in a title race.
Liverpool fans still remember how he terminated the Reds' title tilt three seasons ago.
Chelsea should have known better than to underestimate a matinee replay of Mourinho's tactical masterclass, especially with their strained relationship now.
It was carried out with absolute precision yesterday morning under the guise of a starting line-up that had been widely perceived as under-strength.
Chelsea should know better that there is no such thing as a weakened Mourinho side.
Isolating their two stand-out players was far easier than anticipated, with Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo stifling Diego Costa by simply doubling up on him. But the greater reward, and redemption, lay in Ander Herrera shackling Eden Hazard with remarkable ease.
The Spain playmaker's previous moment in the spotlight when the two sides faced off in last month's FA Cup quarter-finals ended in ignominy as he was sent off for scything down Hazard at Stamford Bridge.
Herrera emerged far superior this time around as one of this season's stand-out performers, while Hazard was reduced to little more than a cameo appearance.
The Belgian's influence was negligible as he found himself nullified by any means possible.
Herrera's role in assisting Marcus Rashford allowed United's young striker to also indulge in some personal catharsis as he was elected to lead the line in place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
For all the 35-year-old's bluster of being a hybrid between Benjamin Button and Indiana Jones, there can be no denying that United's travails have begun to take a toll on the striker.
Pulling a vastly underperforming side single-handedly through 44 games this season would eventually test any player's resolve, not least one already firmly in the twilight of his career.
In his absence, the pressure on Rashford to lead the line was similarly intense.
His previous outing against Antonio Conte's side was forgettable to say the least, having fluffed his lines during last month's FA Cup exit.
At a second time of asking, the 19-year-old did not disappoint. Chelsea simply could not handle his pace or his dovetailing with Jesse Lingard at regular intervals to leave the visitors overstretched and firmly under siege at the Theatre of Dreams.
A clinical early opener was the very least that the England international deserved.
Mourinho showed why knowing his enemy remains a particular forte, but these occasional scalps derived from terse brinkmanship will absolve him only for so long.
Sooner or later, United will have to confront their ongoing identity crisis.