Chelsea needed just one goal scored by Cesc Fabregas to wrap up three points at Sunderland.
This is what it meant.
Sunderland watched and learned
David Moyes had clearly been given a video of Chelsea's 1-0 win over West Brom on Sunday – as you might expect.
He set his side up just the same as Tony Pulis: with a ruler-straight line of five at the back, and a very compact field beyond.
For much of the game they seemed to play with a formation best described a 9-0-Defoe.
The first shot on target didn't come until about 35 minutes – via a David Luiz long range free kick.
It looked as if we were in for a weary night on Wearside.
Cesc Fabregas has just climbed up the pecking order
Sunday brought his timely assist for Diego Costa against the Baggies.
Here Fabregas netted the lone strike: after a well-worked one-two with Willian, he passed the pall into the corner of Jordan Pickford's net.
With Oscar seemingly China-bound, Chelsea have a vacancy for a creative midfielder willing to work on the fringes of the first team.
Fabregas had looked a dead cert to be off in January: but the pendulum has swung in his favour right now.
Chelsea showed they could do it without Eden Hazard
News that Hazard was to miss this trip caused consternation among Blues' fans.
A knock picked up against West Brom sidelined the Belgian, and he did not travel to the north east.
But, albeit against pretty poor opposition, they didn't show any real signs of his absence.
Hazard is likely to be back by the weekend, but this showed that Conte's preferred 11 can be rotated when needed, and that depth is starting to be found within the squad.
Deep breaths needed for next fortnight
Pedro needlessly picked up a caution here: thanks to that stupid rule that penalises players for shooting after the whistle.
It was his fourth yellow of the season: a status in which he joined David Luiz, Nemanja Matic, N'Golo Kante and Diego Costa.
One more, and they miss out until games against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Stoke have passed – and, on January 1, the slate is wiped clean.
Costa has showed how to keep a clean nose: on four yellows since the fifth match, and none since. The others need to take his lead.
Chelsea will be top at Christmas, and that means...
....the psychological advantage of topping the table on December 25 is a precursor to great things, traditionally..
But Chelsea next play on Saturday lunchtime at Selhurst Park, against crazy defending Crystal Palace.
That game will be done and dusted before either Arsenal or Liverpool kick a ball – meaning the lead could even be nine points before the main weekend's programme kicks off.
Counting chickens is a game for poultry farmers and idiots; but leading from the front is a tried and tested strategy.