Grizzled veterans Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas, David Luiz and Pedro Rodriguez are all out of contract in the summer of 2019 and of the younger crop, only Andreas Christensen projects to be world class. Significant investment is required with or without Conte, but Abramovich has done nothing to suggest he is willing or able to compete at the top of a hyperinflated transfer market.

Everything points to this summer being a vital one for determining Chelsea’s future trajectory, and the coming weeks will determine whether they embark on the rebuild from a position of strength or weakness. Much now rests on the desire of Conte and his players to get immediate results in the service of longer-term goals that they may not have a stake in. If spirited resistance at the Camp Nou proves to be the final flourish in a stuttering season, Messi’s mastery will be the least of the concerns at Stamford Bridge.