COMMENT: Mauricio Pochettino was honest last night. Courageously so. Just as he was going into Wednesday's impressive FA Cup replay win at Aston Villa. "Reality", it appears, is now dawning on Chelsea FC...
The penny's dropped. At least for the manager. And to be fair, his players too. On a night when it would be so easy to get carried away with the result - and it must be said the performance - there was caution raised in post-match soundbites from stand-in captain Conor Gallagher and his manager.
"There was a lot of hunger and that's what we need every game," Gallagher, who struck a first goal of the season on the night, later declared. "I think before the game you could sense that because the last two games have not been good enough by our standards.
"A lot of times this season we haven't been good enough, but also a lot of times we have been really good against the top teams so we know how good we can be..."
Pochettino, meanwhile, would go stronger in his presser. Just as he did pre-match, the Argentine is clearly making a conscious effort to open up to the Blues support about what he's dealing with inside Cobham HQ. This isn't the Chelsea of Roman Abramovich. This isn't the Chelsea of perennial title challengers and trophy winners. That's gone. Perhaps (and this is us saying it, not Poch) forever. It's a 'new reality' for Chelsea FC.
"We need to stop thinking we are Chelsea from the last 20 years because we are not any more this type of Chelsea that people believe," said the Argentine after their 3-1 triumph. "Now we need to move on and all together."
Then on goalscorer Enzo Fernandez, he added: "I don't want to annoy the people. For me, it's not an excuse. I want to be here because I really believe in the project, I really believe in the player, but please, stop creating expectation that does match to the reality and help the players that are here to try and build something."
This isn't Pochettino laying out excuses. Trying to buffer himself ahead of the next inevitable dip from this young team. This is Pochettino telling the Blues fan straight: the club has been transformed. The staff. The players. The talent. The culture. Everything. The Chelsea of today has no connection with the one of the past 20 years. And there's no point looking back. The only way they're going to get out of this is if the support and the players stick together.
Again, this was courageous from Pochettino. Effectively the Argentine was stating what this column has been banging on about for the past 18 months. What we warned Blues fans of as soon as Todd Boehly and Beghdad Eghbali began clearing house. The club as we knew it. As we admired it. That Chelsea FC is no more. This isn't us stating that, this is the manager. And no truer words from anyone connected to this version of Chelsea have been said.
For this column, Pochettino's reaction before and after last night's win is enough proof that he's the right man in charge. That intermediaries were getting word the Argentine could be on shaky ground going into the tie is a disgrace. The victory - and the manner of it - should cool the jets of the Blues hierarchy. It's ridiculous that the manager's position should ever have been up for discussion.
The fall of Chelsea has nothing to do with Pochettino. Nor Graham Potter. Nor Thomas Tuchel. Those responsible are those making the decisions above them. The ones that have ripped the place apart. From top to bottom. Who wanted to do it their way, with no respect for what they'd inherited.
So well done to Pochettino for raising this week's reality check. It had to be said. And it must continue, if only - as he did for Enzo - to protect his players.
For the Blues support, as much as this column has sympathy with the frustrations of the hardcore, you do hope they heed their manager's words. He's not the problem. Nor are Enzo, Raheem Sterling or anyother of his players. You need to look higher for those to blame.
Wednesday at Villa Park was a good night for Chelsea. And it deserves to be celebrated. But beyond the goals and the performance, the biggest moment came afterwards from the manager. It was honest. Courageous. And it had to be said. Chelsea fans need to get used to their 'new reality'.