Predicting a Premier League season is the equivalent of building a piece of furniture without the instructions; however confident you were from the outset, the finish production is never how you imagined it, with parts in peculiar places and the dining room table now slightly wonky.
However, Chelsea made life simple for assembly makers in 2009/10 by laying out their blueprints for all to see during the first competitive fixture of the English campaign.
Carlo Ancelotti announced his arrival in England by defeating arch enemy Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley; fast forward 9 months, and the Blues would be returning to the national stadium, parading the league crown under their arm and aiming to achieve club history, aided largely by an Italian and an Ivorian.
Pressure on Pompey
Pre-match, all the headlines centred around the significance of an FA Cup victory for either side: Chelsea could secure a domestic double for the first time, whereas Avram Grant's Portsmouth were facing the possibility of relegation whilst being holders of the cup, another first in English football.
And despite the Premier League pedigree on show, nobody gave Pompey a sniff as they buckled up to face the most formidable forward in the country. Didier Drogba's frightening tally of 36 goals had propelled Ancelotti to his second piece of silverware whilst earning himself the Barclays Golden Boot, the African Footballer of the Year, a place in the PFA Team of the Season and Chelsea's Player of the Year.
A couple of Drogba's haul were scored at Fratton Park earlier in the season, Chelsea thumping five without reply past Portsmouth, this disregard for oppositions humility a staple of Ancelotti's new side. On three occasions, the Blues swept seven past their opponents (7-2 Sunderland, 7-1 Aston Villa, 7-0 Stoke City), wrecked Wigan Athletic by eight goals on the final day and bagged five against Blackburn Rovers and Watford for good measure.
Hopes and prayers went out to Portsmouth’s back line, who also had to contain the threat of Frank Lampard (26 goals from midfield), Nicolas Anelka (15) and Florent Malouda (a hattrick against Pompey in the 5-0 demolition) among many others.
Wembley's woodwork centre of attention
Typically turbo charged, Chelsea looked to punish Portsmouth and ensure even more misery upon their sorrowed travelling support. Lampard let fly from range 13 minutes into the tie that rattled the crossbar, starting an unhappy relationship between the Blues and David James' woodwork.
By some surprise, the coastal club came close to drowning their doubters, denied a shock lead by a wonderful piece of goalkeeping from Petr Cech, recently awarded the Golden Glove for his 17 league clean sheets. Kevin Prince Boateng's volley was flashing wide before Frederic Piquionne, six yards out, instinctively put a foot out to direct it goal wards; in any other situation, the Noumea born striker would have wielded away in celebration if not for Cech's expert relax save.
Unfortunately, this fired Chelsea up even further as they rushed for an instant reaction. Ashley Cole caught the Portsmouth defence napping down the left channel, squaring to Salmon Kalou from the by-line for a certain opener. With the gaping goal at his mercy, Kalou's calamitous effort hit the woodwork, stunning all inside the stadium who had anticipated the net to bulge. Instead the score was still, somehow, level.
John Terry was next to curse the crossbar, looping a header that appeared to catch James off guard but it was not to be for the Chelsea skipper. Relatively quiet in the opening stages, Drogba sent a reminder hurtling towards the Pompey 'keeper from 35 yards, his free-kick falling millimetres from crossing the line thanks to combination of bar and glove. Grant's men would survive the first half by a fraction, whilst Ancelotti rued the white framework that was spoiling his trophy party.
Every FA Cup journey needs a sprinkle of the competitions fabled 'magic': up until this point, the only evidence of this phenomena was League Two's Notts County knocking out Wigan in the fourth round.
Yet, Portsmouth almost conjured up a fairy-tale end to a nightmarish season with ten minutes played in the second half. Having missed the top corner from a narrow angle just moments earlier, Boateng was offered another, more straightforward, opportunity from the penalty spot after Julien Belletti clumsily brought down Arena Dingane inside the area.
Up stepped the Ghanaian, who placed his shot rather tamely down the middle, causing Cech to make a routine, yet highly necessary, save with his outstretched foot.
In parallel to the opening 45, Chelsea required that shock to shake them into gear and more troubling for Portsmouth, awakening their terrific talisman.
Drogba, with another dead ball at his disposal, went for precision over power, conjuring a combination of swerve and dip to evade the fingertips of James, his freekick nestling in the far corner to secure his sixth Wembley goal in seven appearances and more crucially, the lead for his team.
To Portsmouth's credit, they dug into their last reserves often saved for such a grand occasion, making the closing stages difficult for the Blues. Nevertheless, this excursion of energy took its toll as Michael Brown bundled over Lampard three minutes from time inside the box, giving referee Chris Foy no choice but to point to the spot for a second time.
There was no icing on the cake for the Blues current boss, as he squirmed his effort just wide of the bottom corner, although the contest was all but won as Foy finally put the whistle to his lips, confirming Chelsea's momentous double and concluding Pompey's heart-breaking season.