Three years, 61 games. Then came Jose Mourinho.
It had been a considerable time since Manchester City last failed to score in a Premier League game at home. And given Manuel Pellegrini's team have already hit 115 goals in all competitions this term, they were expected to continue their record on Monday night.
They met their match with Chelsea and their manager, though.
"It was vintage Jose," John Terry told Sky Sports at the final whistle. "[Big matches are] where he comes into his own."
Indeed, it was and is.
Mourinho's return to West London this season may have been somewhat subdued in contrast to his arrival in 2004, but the intensity is being cranked up a notch with each passing week.
The impression was that the Portuguese boss of Real Madrid had a lot to prove on the back of a disappointing final season. If that were the case, Chelsea's 1-0 victory over City means he has. Those questions can no longer be asked.
Chelsea's performance against City was about more than just three points. It was a performance that marked their return to English football's top table.
Jose Mourinho is still the special one.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 3, 2014
From finishing sixth and third in recent seasons, the Blues have had the look of a fading force, a team merely making up the numbers. A prolonged transitional period, managerial changes and player turnover had all played their part in that decline, but now they're back.
In the eyes of their manager, the Premier League crown may be beyond them this season. However, sitting third and just two points behind Arsenal, it's going to take a lot to stop the Blues.
"We are there, but we are not favourites," Mourinho said in his post-match TV interview, doing his best to not get carried away. "It's not good for the evolution of the team if you're playing 10, 15 points behind the leaders. We need these kind of matches with the pressure we felt today."
There were many surprises at Etihad Stadium—City not scoring the least of them.
We knew a moment of magic would be required to win the game. That it came from Branislav Ivanovic, a defender, would have been most shocking to some, although there was more.
Against Manchester United and Arsenal this term, Mourinho has fielded teams in a bid to avoid defeat. On Monday, it was about winning.
It was a bold move from the manager, dropping Oscar to the bench in favor of playing an extra defensive midfielder to give his attackers a little more freedom while also congesting the middle where City have been so ruthless.
Mourinho's tactics stifled Pellegrini's men, putting them on the front foot with the tenacious Eden Hazard running things further forward.
There were times the Belgian seemed to be toying with the opposition, daring them to tackle him only to jink past with minimal effort.
The game finished 1-0, although it should have been much more. In fact, Chelsea could have been out of sight come half-time.
It was a humbling night for Pellegrini and, once again, it was Mourinho getting one over on a major rival.
"We played fantastic against a fantastic team," the Chelsea boss continued. "It's amazing for the boys, in this process of building the team to be one of the favorites next season, it's a very important step.
"We have beaten them twice in the Premier League. They had a couple of chances to score, but we had better chances to kill the game.
"[The players] played with fantastic spirit in the way I was trying to explain, but you can never tell how things will go. The feeling of playing the way they played is a fantastic feeling for them."
With 14 games remaining, there is still a long way to go in the title race. This result will do a lot for Chelsea's challenge, yet we can expect more twists and turns over the next three months.
In summing up Mourinho's impact on Sky Sports, Gary Neville also sent out a warning for what we can expect.
"Mourinho. Big matches. He always comes to the party [...] He's good and he knows he's good."
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes