With Chelsea's view of table not far short of a reverse of what they saw 12 months ago, Antonio Conte has delivered a start few would have predicted, or even hoped for.

After 11 games last season, with Jose Mourinho's second reign over bar the shouting, his Blues were 15th, with just 11 points.

Conte's side, at the same stage, are now second with 25 – and they even gave the rest of the league a six-match head start.

After the pain of 2015-16, it was going to take something special for the Stamford Bridge faithful to take to a new boss.

If this year has taught the wider world anything, it is that people tend to display commitment issues if they feel let down by the established order.

They look to the fringes, and to those who represent a different vision of what they know.

Video thumbnail, Can Diego Costa beat Shearer's record
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Can Diego Costa beat Shearer's record

And, in an odd sort of way: in Conte, Chelsea have got just that.

There was disquiet in those first half dozen outings when what we saw was no change: the same system; the same players; and the same performances.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Blues did, at least, look decent against the poor sides: a 3-0 walkover against Burnley a case in point.

But they were a shambles when lined-up against anything more challenging: Arsenal, Liverpool – same old story.

Fans were desperate for change: not just in the macro stuff like systems and personnel; but also in the micro – there was frustration with Conte's failure to use his bench.

But what most did not know was that the Italian was using the double-edged sword of being out of Europe to work on a plan of shock and awe which would turn heads once implemented.

The nadir of this young season was also the turning point. Half tine at Arsenal: 3-0 down, and he switched to three at the back.

It was the first we had seen of a system many thought could not work in the Premier League.

A wing, and no prayer required: Victor Moses (L) holds off Sam Clucas

Here it was used like a dose of Imodium: to stop-up a problem which looked like escalating form three, to perhaps six very quickly.

It worked, and since that moment the transformation has been remarkable: not a goal conceded, 16 scored, and 15 points out of 15.

We've seen the side growing in confidence in its new 3-4-3 formation in front of our very eyes.

At Hull, it was not until the Tigers' lagging legs combined with the Blues growing confidence to deliver a one-way second half.

Leicester, who were dispatched 3-0, fell into the category of sides that offered little real opposition: Claudio Ranieri's Richter scale busting Champions seemed to be suffering from a bit too much of that summer Champagne.

But the win added to the confidence, and gave Stamford Bridge a moment that will go down in history: the 4-0 demolition of Mourinho's own Manchester United.

Diego Costa of Chelsea (C) celebrates scoring his sides second goal

Southampton was as professional an away performance as Chelsea have delivered in some time; and then back to The Bridge for Everton.

The true value of that game will be difficult to judge until much later in the season.

But it was the culmination of the 'work, and work, and work' Conte keeps telling us of: both in his Cobham laboratory in the weeks pre-Arsenal; and on the pitch after that.

Chelsea looked like a side renewed: beautiful, flowing football – so quick, so ruthless.

Not an inch was given or taken: but five goals were bagged.

As starts to, Conte's has been little short of miraculous: taking a side that looked beyond reviving, without major surgery, to a position where they are playing perhaps the best football in the land.

The question we cannot yet answer is this: can he keep it up?

With Tottenham and Manchester City awaiting in the next few weeks, we may be about to find out.