Last season, Chelsea got off to a blistering start away to Wigan Athletic, going up 2-0 in the first half before switching off for the second against a team that didn't really hurt them. This season they did more or less the same thing, killing off the Hull City threat immediately before napping their way through the back half of the game, and it worked perfectly fine.
Hull weren't really down with the whole 'playing against Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge' thing, especially at the start of the match. Within five minutes they'd made their first major error, with goalkeeper Allan MacGregor wiping out Fernando Torres with a punch to the face while he was running away from goal. Yes, you read that right.
Said punch gave Jonathan Moss no choice but to point to the penalty spot, and with Frank Lampard stepping up it seemed as though Chelsea were sure to open the new season's account. But the club's record goalscorer couldn't convert, hitting the ball not far to MacGregor's right, and the visitors escaped unscathed.
Not for long, mind. Eden Hazard had already combined with Kevin de Bruyne to threaten, but the result was a disappointing mis-hit. This time was better, with the senior Belgium retrieving the ball from the corner, turning infield and slipping the ball in to his compatriot. Hull's defence was ragged, and Oscar was allowed space in behind, leaving de Bruyne to pick him out. The finish was lightning-fast and perfect, slotted under MacGregor for the 1-0 lead.
Lampard nearly doubled the score shortly thereafter, exploiting the buzzing creativity of Oscar and Hazard to find space in the box -- MacGregor met his effort with a fantastic save. The second was coming, though, and there was no stopping Lampard this time.
Fernando Torres had been playing well, linking up play between himself and the attacking midfielders very neatly, and the centre forward won a (dubious) free kick off James Chester 35 yards out. With David Luiz injured, Lampard was the obvious candidate to take it, and he produced a magnificent, swerving drive that fizzed into the back of the net despite MacGregor getting a hand to it.
Chelsea were thoroughly in control, running the Tigers ragged with careful possession play followed up by rapid vertical penetration whenever space opened up. They were also playing very physically whenever Hull did manage to get the ball -- both Ramires and Yannick Sagbo had to be treated after a 50-50 and it required Oscar's best 'I'm a cute little angel' face to get away with his foul on David Meyler without a booking.
Naturally, there were further chances in the first half. Branislav Ivanovic's knockdown for Torres might have produced a goal if MacGregor hadn't stolen in first, and the Serbian tried to grab one himself just before the interval with a thumping header from a corner kick. Again, the goalkeeper was up to the challenge, clawing the ball away from under the bar. The Goal Decision System confirmed that it hadn't crossed the line.
The second half was less fun. Chelsea had zero intention of killing off the game, and allowed Hull to get on the ball and even threaten at times. They forced their first save of the match in the 63rd minute, with Petr Cech spilling a long-range effort from Robert Koren before recovering, and from there they continued to put pressure on the Blues. The most dangerous moment was a partially-cleared corner which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and a handball shout against Lampard (the ball hit him in the midriff), and there was an air of not-very-impressiveness from the whole side as they relaxed ahead of their midweek game against Aston Villa.
That said, there were plenty of chances for Chelsea to increase their lead. Lampard overhit a pass that would have sent Ramires through on goal. Ivanovic was hauled down in the box by Robert Brady only for Moss to wave off the appeals. And Andre Schurrle will be kicking himself for not converting one on one against MacGregor -- his chipped effort floated just a little over the bar. A debut goal would have been very nice indeed.
He wasn't the only Blue making his debut. Marco van Ginkel appeared very late as Mourinho looked to settle things down, and we also got to see the return of Romelu Lukaku after a season away at West Bromwich Albion. All told, it was difficult to get much of a feel for anyone -- Chelsea had a 2-0 lead against a team that looked incapable of reducing it. They held on without much bother, and even if we'd have liked to have seen more goals, they wouldn't have been worth any more points.
Welcome back, Jose. Welcome back, football.