Jose Mourinho confirmed the team are in "evolution" during his post-match interview, as reported by Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, but this growth will be stunted if Mario Balotelli is brought to Stamford Bridge.
While the Portuguese manager deployed a tactical masterclass against City, the effectiveness of his game plan was only as good as the players carrying it out. Chelsea's entire team was full of energy, a willingness to compete and dominate the one-on-one encounters that would decide such an important fixture.
We saw this with Nemanja Matic, who reduced the usually imposing figure of Yaya Toure to an uncomfortable oaf in the middle of the park. While Yaya started strongly by fending off multiple opponents with brute strength, he was redundant in the second half.
Eden Hazard's confident approach saw him act as the counterattacking conduit for Mourinho's men. He suckered players in, skipped past them and sped toward the opposition's box with regularity.
As recorded by WhoScored.com, the Belgian completed 11 dribbles and was fouled four times. He provided respite, but most importantly, stopped City from entering their attacking rhythm.
Willian also worked excellently on the other side, while the energy of Chelsea's full-backs halted any chance of Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov sustaining advanced positions.
Although Samuel Eto'o also put in a decent shift, the presence of a consistently hard-working, determined forward wasn't noticeable. Perhaps more so because Chelsea worked so well across the rest of the pitch.
Mario Balotelli is not the man to remedy this problem.
The 23-year-old was famed for his lazy approach while at Manchester City. This has only continued at the San Siro, where he continues to prioritise himself over the struggling Serie A side's need for hard work.
Balotelli averages 0.4 tackles and 0.3 interceptions per match, via WhoScored. He completes just 70 percent of his passes, while also making 2.1 fouls every game.
Mourinho doesn't need a player who will unnecessarily provide the opposition with free-kicks. He needs someone who can pressure rivals into making mistakes or punting out of play.
Balotelli doesn't regularly make the effort to chase down. When he does, it's often met with a flash of the yellow card (10 yellow, one red in 22 games this season).
Even when he does gain possession, the Italian's retention stats suggest he is likely to make a mistake. Balotelli has completed 2.4 dribbles per match, while also being dispossessed 2.3 times every appearance. That's not forgetting the 2.1 turnovers that also dampen each performance.
Balotelli is an unstoppable goalscoring force when in the right frame of mind, but his overall output would only frustrate Mourinho's cause.
The Chelsea boss laminated his blueprint for the club's future during the Feb. 3 tie at the Etihad. It's a concoction that is built on endless running, pace, power and the determination to ensure the opposition never settle. For the first time, many will have understood why Juan Mata was allowed to leave for Manchester United.
Mourinho's unwanted Spaniard simply didn't fit, despite his easygoing attitude and eagerness to play. Balotelli doesn't possess either of these traits and would naturally frustrate Chelsea fans, who have become used to seeing the team notch up clean sheets:
The manager's new model is built for Wayne Rooney, Diego Costa or Edinson Cavani—forwards who understand their roles extend beyond simply sticking the ball away. As with Chelsea's midfielders and full-backs, the striker's responsibilities are multi-faceted.
None of Eto'o, Fernando Torres or Demba Ba are built to fulfill this role in the long term. Neither is Balotelli, who would devolve Mourinho's purposeful team into a "little horse" with three legs.