Updated: Sep 28
In the end, Chelsea secured the three points over Brighton to open the new Premier League season with a 3-1 win. But it was far from perfect. It was hard on the eyes for long periods. Most importantly, it didn't flash the £200 million spent during the summer like anticipated, desired, and expected.
Timo Werner was the only transfer signing that made an impact. He terrorized Brighton's defense at times with his pace, most notably when he stormed through the backline and drew a penalty for the opening goal thanks to Stephen Alzate's mistake.
He also made an 80 yard run on the break, flying past all the Seagulls. Unfortunately, Ruben Loftus-Cheek took one too many touches and couldn't slip a pass to Werner when they got into the final third.
Werner's compatriot and fellow Chelsea and Premier League debutant Kai Havertz had the exact opposite day. He failed to produce any moments of magic as he did so frequently at Bayer Leverkusen. Playing on the right-wing instead of centrally didn't seem to suit him at all.
Chelsea's other headline signings, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, and Thiago Silva all missed the game either through injury or a lack of match fitness.
For all the money Chelsea dropped in the summer, they got very little return in this first match. But that will surely change. Werner will get his first goal soon enough. Havertz will get used to the league quickly, a league he said is "much tougher" than the Bundesliga. And of course, Chilwell, Ziyech, and Silva will get fit at some point.
But with so much anticipation, hype, and excitement about this new-look Chelsea side, it resembled last year's Chelsea far too much.
Jorginho scored a penalty. He has converted every one since joining the Blues. Reece James, an academy product, made a massive impact with his rocket of a goal. And Kepa didn't make a save he should have. Oh, and Christian Pulisic missed through injury, just for good measure.
None of those are causes for concern per-see. It's just that Chelsea this year was supposed to be full of shiny new toys. Yet, three of them didn't play. Two did. And only one made an impact.
Chelsea will no doubt improve as the year goes on. And the fresh faces will become major players worth their salt and price tags. They have to because the demands at Chelsea have skyrocketed compared to last year.
Manager Frank Lampard worked wonders by getting the team in the top four with a bunch of academy graduates and no signings thanks to a transfer ban. Plus, he now has a year's experience in the top flight.
Moreover, in the Abramovich era, every manager that failed to qualify for the Champions League cleaned out his office at the end of the year. Some even did despite qualifying like Maurizio Sarri most recently.
Abramovich does not mediocrity. Nor should he. Especially not after last season's success and making it rain £200 million worth this summer to build on that success.
Now, is Lampard's job on the line if Chelsea underwhelm more times than not this season like they did on the south coast Monday night? History and precedent would say yes.
But his legendary status at Stamford Bridge, even though that shouldn't matter, and the project may say no.
Chelsea will improve. The players will as well. And so will Lampard. They have to if they want to challenge for the title.
They have to, also, if they want to remain employed after all the hype, anticipation, confidence, and money spent.