Chelsea's season just got harder – they're going to have to win the Champions League now to get back in it again.
Jose Mourinho insisted, in the aftermath of the much-improved performance and 2-0 win over Porto at Stamford Bridge, that was very much a possibility for Chelsea.
But it will also be a herculean feat for a squad that is still performing well below its capabilities, and that has now cruised past the bumpy-lane back-route to Champions League qualification that is the Europa League.
He also insisted that Chelsea will continue to chase fourth place in the Premier League, for as long as it remained a mathematical possibility.
To reach the 70 points likely to be required for that feat, Blues now need to average 2.39 points a game – a figure increased from 2.27 a month ago, and markedly above their present average of just one.
Parking, for a moment, the gravity of Chelsea's present situation, there were many positives from their win over Porto.
It was better than we've seen for a while, that much was not in doubt, but was it good enough to constitute a return to form?
The biggest single positive was the readiness the revised team had when it came to the transition from attack to defence and back.
Chelsea were adept at dropping back eight blue shirts when needed, and then broke well on the counter.
It was one of the very few times this season we have seen anything remotely approaching what we usually expect of a Mourinho team.
But, for all the extra energy in midfield that went a long way to making that happen, where does that leave Cesc Fabregas now Mourinho has finally called his bluff?
Benched, to the delight of fans who have seen one too many ghostly apparition of his former self, what does the future hold for a £30m midfielder considered by his boss not good enough for the club's biggest match of the season?
Up-front was an even bigger issue: as Mourinho praised a competent and energetic performance from Diego Costa , but one which lacked any real competence in front of goal.
It is alarming how Costa has gone through the many lives of the Chelsea striker: from lethal target man; to goal-drought shy-guy; to petulant flouncer; to, as we saw last night, abject bottler.
He could – should – have had a hat trick. But instead we saw a series of chances sent begging by a poor first touch, and a desire to win the foul rather than hit the target.
Chelsea's win over Porto in pictures:
Mourinho has tried everything: playing him; not playing him; bringing him on at half time; good cop; bad cop. It's tough to know where he could take things next.
Wrestling the case back to the positives: this performance would have beaten Bournemouth ; and it would have bettered a number of the foundering league results that have contributed to Chelsea's predicament.
But will it be enough to beat Leicester away on Monday night – a game Chelsea need to win if fourth really remains the target.
With 23 matches remaining, and assuming only one more defeat, they can only afford to draw another five if the 70-point target is to be reached.
And with games still to come at Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool; and home home to both Manchester clubs and Tottenham – the King Power is a must-win location.
All of that, of course, becomes window dressing if Mourinho is right – and Chelsea can win the Champions League.
With PSV Eindhoven, Roma, Gent, Benfica and Juventus options in Monday's draw – progression looks plausible. Should the draw turn out the other option of Paris Saint-Germain – those chances are much diminished.
Mourinho said each one of those sides would rather face Chelsea in the next round than any of the group winners – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich among them.
And, even on the basis of what we saw against Porto, he will be right in that estimation.