A disappointing start to the season in some respects but the quality in the current Chelsea side is still there for all to see.
Stoke were a stubborn side and with the referee again not giving at least one blatant penalty in Chelsea's favour it seems we are in for the same old cliches... decisions not going our way against a side that couldn't even muster a shot on target.
Chelsea's defence look solid and the central part of the team has decent cohesiveness now. Ramires looks the part after my initial reservations.
More worrying is the balance up front. With the ball at his feet Torres looks frightening - it was this aspect of his game that sent a chill down my spine when he played against us. Other parts of his game are disappointing. Many times there were opportunities for him to make the most out of crosses by actually being in the vicinity of the six-yard area and yet he seems to lag behind play as if he is too good for simple tap-ins.
I like Malouda a lot but he does not seem to be the same player he was - on his day he looks an adequate replacement for my favourite ever Chelsea winger, Arjen Robben but he lacks consistency.
Kalou too is not a player who you can criticise for wont of trying but he lacks the quality needed to be a player who can start every match.
Essien missing is a big blow to our midfield and I do worry that we do not seem to possess "natural" wingers. If we are not going in the transfer market to add in this part of the pitch then the formation has to be changed to allow our wingbacks to attack more. This to me equates to a 4-1-3-2 formation (bear with me!) with two strikers up front. Dropping Drogba to me is a big mistake even if he is more sulky than a 2 year-old child at times.
Watching snippets of Manchester City shows they have bought quality - the real test for them will come if they go through a rocky patch. The likes of Balotelli and Tevez (why do the media love the latter when he has cheated on his wife? One rule for Chelsea players...) are the types of player who can spoil the apple cart but they will still be our main rivals along with Manchester United.
The Lukaku signing is a little puzzling and we look a little top heavy now - Sturridge has his critics but the gambler in me would like to see him playing more regularly if the future is youth.
Overall it feels like the top in football overall... many unsold tickets for our first home game and many fans becoming more unenamoured with the direction of "soccer". High ticket prices, more concentration on pleasing JCLs than our traditional fan base and biased media reporting do not help. If anyone can call Real Madrid and Barcelona the best two teams in the world with the amount of diving and feigning injury that occurred during their Super Cup match then it shows what is wrong with football today.
I am sceptical about football but modestly confident this season. My first match will be the Norwich home game... one that brings back lukewarm memories of a match in the early 90s for a birthday that must have been one of the most tedious games I ever saw at The Bridge... a 0-0 bore draw when Townsend was still on their books. More recently, I still guffaw at the admittedly puerile chants directed at Delia at a recent away match at Carrow Road... one thing for sure is that Chelsea fans' still make me smile even at my most pessimistic!
Liverpool and Arsenal look like they could really underperform this season which would be music to my ears, nose and throat but regrettably it may mean Spurs creep back into the top 4 at season's end.
I am looking forward to Swansea away (if I can get a ticket) and will try to make the odd sojourn into Europe.
Good luck to the Blues this season and I pray for a miracle!