THERE were boos and banners of protest as promised for Rafael Benitez.
A defiant Stamford Bridge showed it could support the team but not the manager. Though on pitch, Chelsea still looked short of confidence in converting swathes of possession and opportunities into cold hard goals.
Benitez had risked the wrath of the Blues from the outset by dropping captain John Terry to the bench, and there were plenty of songs in support of the centre half to follow.
The pick of the banner crop was one in the Matthew Harding End, reading: “Rafa Benitez – we're joust not that Inter 'im.”
The anti-Benitez chants started early, briefly silenced when Demba Ba put in a cross from the right to Oscar, whose toe-poked touch was saved by Ben Foster in the Baggies' goal.
While at the other end a Steven Reid free kick from 25 yards was touched over the bar by Petr Cech.
Juan Mata played a lovely pass from out on the right to Oscar again but the header that followed didn't trouble Foster.
“Only one Di Matteo,” came the shout on 16 minutes – with a vigour not seen since back in November when the wound of his departure was fresh.
Eden Hazard bristled into the penalty area and another chance went begging.
The Shed End put a new twist on an old favourite: “We know what you are, we know what you are interim Manager, we know what you are.”
Just before the half hour a David Luiz free-kick from the corner box caught the top of the ascending wall – forcing Foster to make a diving save.
From the ensuing corner, Oscar picked up the ball, chipped to Luiz standing on the goal line wide of the post, and the curly-haired centre half headed back towards the penalty spot where Ba was on the scene to side-foot home.
No lack of celebration from the home fans, but within 30 seconds: “We don't care about Rafa, he don't care about us, all we care about is Chelsea FC”
After the break, much of the attention turned to Frank Lampard on 199 Chelsea goals, and three short of Bobby Tambling's all time club record.
There were celebrations when he side-footed into the net but referee Kevin Friend had already by that stage blown for a well-offside Mata.
The award of a free kick on the edge of West Brom's box again saw Lampard's name sung: but his free kick cannoned against the wall.
On the hour there was another chance for that elusive goal: Eden Hazard going flat in the box under the weight of an apparent nudge from Jonas Olsson. None appealed more than Lampard. The ref said not: and replays showed it would have been a very soft penalty if given.
A chant for Special One Jose Mourinho went up echoed by pretty much the whole ground. Benitez stood chewing on the sidelines.
As the ball ran out of play to the Spaniard he picked it up to deafening boos. He dropped it like a fizzing bomb.
After a great phase of attacking play wrapped around the break, Chelsea seemed to dampen their ambitions. The visitors got forward a couple of times and, without actually causing trouble, unsettled Chelsea.
Despite a late flurry from West Brom, including an injury time corner that saw Foster go up into the opposition penalty area, that was how it finished.
Chelsea's fans had made their passions felt.
And what now? An uneasy truce? Or was that a last hurrah for Benitez?