There was to be no sweeping revenge for Moscow, but by equalising 10 minutes from time, at least Chelsea reminded Man United they will again be the team most likely to deny them the major prizes this season.
After a dreadful first half for Chelsea - compounded by injury to Deco in the pre-match warm-up and Ricardo Carvalho with the game in its infancy - Luiz Felipe Scolari rallied his team after the break to claim a deserved draw.
Not only was Salomon Kalou's header vital in terms of retaining the belief that United can be overhauled after two years of supremacy, it ensured that amazing unbeaten home record still stands. It is now up to 85 games and stretches back to 2004.
Scolari professes not to be too interested in such statistics, but it is amazing what self-belief can be built on such feelings of invicibility.
Sunday's 1-1 draw between the league's most powerful teams will undoubtedly represent a missed opportunity for United, whose first half superiority was overwhelming.
Time and again Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov found space behind Chelsea's midfields to create danger, while the Blues did not function as an attacking force at all after Joe Cole had spurned an excellent early opening.
The champions' passing was crisper and more purposeful and they were the better side at closing down players in possession.
When Ji-Sung Park followed up a Berbatov shot that had been spilled by Petr Cech, it was no more than the visitors deserved - the Chelsea keeper having already had to perform heroics to keep out an open goal chance for Rio Ferdinand.
The Blues can take great heart from the way they bent the game to their will after such an unpromising beginning and they maintain a six-point buffer at the top of the Premier League - even if they have surrendered top spot to Arsenal.
They were the most likely winners in the final 10 minutes too as they poured forward aggressively down the flanks and they rattled United so much that ref Mike Riley waved the yellow card at seven red shirts. Three of those were for dissent.
"We lost Deco in the warm-up and our transition from midfield to attack for 15 to 20 minutes was not ready," Scolari said in his charmingly broken English. "They [United] make pressure and they make a goal and they play very well in this time.
"But we have good spirit and we have a beautiful team."
Speaking about maintaining that long unbeaten run, Scolari said; "Maybe it's important for fans of Chelsea, but the record for us is nothing."