Pep Guardiola labelled this latest instalment in a truly gripping title race as a ‘final’ for the Manchester City players before kick-off. By the end, the Citizens head-coach may as well have had his feet up expecting a tougher match against his League Two opposition Newport County in a weeks time.
The Citizens strolled back to the summit of the Premier League with another Sergio Aguero hat-trick as Chelsea were put to the sword by the champions in a perfect performance from Guardiola's players as the Blues suffered their biggest defeat in the Premier League era - their worst since 1991.
The Argentine ace scored his 11th hat-trick for City to equal Alan Shearer's record of 11 trebles in the Premier League.
The visitors surrendered from the first minute in this fixture last season and the same applied today. They were supine and made it a training exercise for the hosts.
What was supposed to be a tricky week turned into a victory parade for Guardiola. No wonder Manchester City’s manager, his face full of glee, strode on the pitch at the final whistle fists pumping the air. His week couldn’t have gone better.
Guardiola was prepared for a fight and after only 25 minutes his opponents were waving the white flag as opposed to a black one. His slick, steely and hard-working City side are back to their devastating best and have brushed aside another top-six rival on their quest to become the first team to retain their Premier League crown since 2009.
Top of the league, a Carabao Cup final, an FA Cup clash against a League Two opposition and a Champions League last-16 bout against a team who is fighting for their lives in the Bundesliga. Yes, yes, yes and yes. The prospects at the Etihad are certainly looking rosy.
What was crystalising for Chelsea was their lack of a plan b in the face of adversity. It doesn't take a genius to take Jorginiho out of the game and a mastermind like Pep wasn't going to miss this one.
Maurizio Sarri has so often questioned the player's mentality this season and the evidence today supported the Italians claims. The Blues have now slumped down to sixth on goal-difference because of this embarrassing scoreline.
Chelsea lacked impetus and City preyed on their weaknesses. Whatever 'Sarri ball' looks like to the former Napoli boss his players seemed ineptitude to the system. The visiting players had deserted their head-coach by 25 minutes.
Quite ironic that it was 10 years ago today the same occurrence happened with Luiz Felipe Scolari who was dismissed as Chelsea boss. On the basis of today, Sarri looks a man destined to fail in the same grim circumstances.
The story of the match
24 seconds against Newcastle, 48 seconds against Arsenal and four minutes here today. It’s fair to say the champions enjoy an early lead. But, oh how they were gifted one by a notoriously poor Chelsea defence.
The opening goal was innate from City and utterly limp from the visitors. Kevin de Bruyne’s predatory skills came into effect with a quick free-kick that opened a vulnerable Chelsea back-line where Bernado Silva was given too much space to strike a low cross into the path of Raheem Sterling who accepted the gift to blast home.
A response against Huddersfield a week ago papered over the cracks at hand for Chelsea and City are no Huddersfield. Seconds after the opener the hosts should have had two. Guardiola was bemused when the Premier League’s top-scorer Aguero missed from two-yards out. The Argentine was merciful on this occasion.
It didn’t matter though. Aguero atoned for his sins minutes later with a goal from the heavens. The forward picked up the ball from 25-yards out and curled a gem into the top corner past a helpless Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It’s almost as if the Chelsea players require a thumping before they feel like fathoming a response. A performance that lacked anything vehement was a mirror shining of the battering that took place at Bournemouth.
By 25 minutes the Blues had matched the scoreline in the south-coast and were well on their way to the club's biggest defeat in 28 years.
A tepid Chelsea defence was punished again minutes later. A scramble in the box gave Chelsea countless opportunities to clear before Ross Barkley headed a poor ball back at goal where Aguero was lurking to make it three.
The hosts were bestriding to their third league win in a week - two against top-six opponents - and Chelsea’s surrender was complete when Ilkay Gundogan curled in a sublime effort into the bottom corner.
Ederson who was completely absent from proceedings in the opening exchanges was forced into two quick saves from Pedro before emphatically tipping away a teasing effort from Gonzalo Higuain that was heading towards the top corner.
Confidence from the hosts was personified with Ederson dancing around Higuain seconds into the second half. The match may have been done, but City were still hungry.
It was almost five when Aguero had a shot crash off the bar as Sarri continued to look on in disarray. Seconds later, referee, Mike Dean was pointing to the spot when Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Sterling.
Aguero stepped up and made it two successive home hat-tricks as the City number ten sent Kepa the wrong way.
Chelsea had their world's most expensive keeper to thank that proceedings weren't to be made even grimmer as the Spaniard later denied substitute Gabriel Jesus with a fine save.
An apoplectic Sarri continued to watch the massacre in horror. The squad depth surrounding this City team is a joy to behold. Star after star took to the field and when David Silva entered the pitch you knew there was to be one final sprinkle of magic.
The Spaniard picked up a pass on the edge of the City box before cutting an exquisite pass through the Chelsea defence into the path of Oleksandr Zinchenko who hit a low cross that eluded Jesus at the near post but fell to Sterling who was lurking at the far post to tap home the host's sixth and his second of the afternoon .
By the end, Sarri snubbed Guardiola in the handshake and was spotted walking to the tunnel knowing that this virtuoso City team more than merited the three points in the 60-year-old's biggest defeat in management.