LUIZ Felipe Scolari believes he has the squad to challenge for the title - but accepts defeat at Liverpool yesterday makes it a much tougher prospect.
The Blues should win their appeal against the red card given to Frank Lampard by referee Mike Riley for a studs-up lunge at the ball. The midfielder made contact with the ball before his boot connected with Xavi Alonso and he should never have been sent off.
But that will be small consolation for Scolari's men, who have now gained just a single point from five games against the other 'big four' adversaries and see their chances of a third title in five years slipping away.
"Chelsea will not spend money and I agree with this," Scolari said. "I have players there and I try with these players as far as possible. I have very good players. I understand the position for Chelsea.
"Our title chances now are more distant because we have Manchester United, Liverpool ahead and together with us Aston Villa. It's more distant, but we need to play game by game. And sure, it's not more in our hands."
It was an honest assessment from a man who seems more even-tempered and philosophical than his reputation suggested before he came.
Blues fans will be hoping it is not a sign that the fire has gone from his belly when it comes to this particular phase of his mangerial career. But certainly he does not enjoy the cheque book power of his predecessors and the Blues look like a team in need of a new face or two to inject some impetus.
Although Lampard's dismissal on the hour had a big bearing on Chelsea's hopes at Anfield, the truth is that the Blues could have few complaints about the 2-0 defeat.
They often looked listless and bereft of ideas going forward, creating very few openings, and it was only a big-hearted defensive display which kept out the home side until the final couple of minutes, when Fernando Torres netted twice.
Chelsea's best hope, even before the sending off, was to frustrate an energetic Liverpool, who nevertheless lacked the finesse which would mark them out as serious challengers for Man United's crown.
The sense of frustration for the Blues was summed by Jose Bosingwa at the death when he lunged a boot into the small of Yossi Benayoun's back as the Israeli shielded the ball by a corner flag. It was as close as the Blues came to making a significant mark on a largely disappointing game.