Chelsea needed this. Their 4-0 win over Everton on Sunday was their most emphatic win of the season, their most convincing performance in a couple of months and, after beating Liverpool in the FA Cup on Wednesday, perfectly wrapped up an extremely satisfying week that will remind Frank Lampard's inconsistent side that they can actually be pretty good.
The last couple of months have been strange at Chelsea. Before this game, they'd only won three times since Christmas, but two of those victories were over Arsenal and Tottenham. Careless points were dropped, Lampard dropped the most expensive keeper in the world to the bench, and their fitness coach was subjected to needless social media abuse after a series of injuries to key players.
But with a team missing probably five of Lampard's first-choice front six, they flexed Everton aside with a twitch of their collective muscle. Indeed, Chelsea were so dominant that visiting fans started to file solemnly to the exits after about an hour, grimly concluding that a Sunday slog through England's haphazard public transport system was preferable to sitting through another 30 minutes of this dross.
While this was supposed to be a season defined by Chelsea's youth, by necessity or design, three of their goals were scored by the old guard: Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud are all on the creaky side of 30, and all out of contract in the summer. On this evidence it would be a gamble for Chelsea to let them all walk, but either way this was a reminder they won't be short of offers.
They were helped out by an Everton team who played like they were concerned that getting close to their opponents would violate the laws of the game. Three of their back four -- Lucas Digne being the notable exception -- looked like they'd barely played football before: Djibril Sidibe was chaotic, Michael Keane treated the ball like it was on fire and Mason Holgate was outstripped for pace with embarrassing ease by Pedro and Willian, both nearly a decade his senior.
The midfield wasn't much better, with Andre Gomes looking like a grown-up trying to keep a bunch of kids in line in the first half. When even he sprayed a big, 40-yard diagonal to absolutely nobody in the second half, you knew things were dire.
"Everything," was Carlo Ancelotti's answer when asked what went wrong. "It's not difficult to analyse. Today was wrong from the beginning." And then, when he was asked whether he was happy with the commitment of his team, he took a lengthy pause before saying: "There are things I can analyse with you, and things I can analyse with my players." Ouch.
Everton's man of the match was Jordan Pickford, and when your best player is a keeper who has let in four goals, it's time to be grateful that the scoreline wasn't worse.
But while Everton's top man was picking the ball out his net four times, Chelsea's was a skinny 18-year-old who could easily have been mistaken for one of the kids whom Stamford the Lion, Chelsea's mascot, was fist bumping with before the game. This was Billy Gilmour's first Premier League start, but to use the old cliche, he played like someone who had been doing this for years.
His was the name cheered most loudly before the game, and it only took the fans 20 minutes to roll out his own bespoke chant: to the tune of "No Limit," by 2 Unlimited, for those keeping track. While fans will always offer disproportionate vocal support to youngsters, Gilmour proved their excitement was entirely justified: all of Chelsea's possession running through him, as it does when Jorginho is at his best; always busy; passes short but purposeful.
"He's receiving the ball in difficult areas of the pitch," said Lampard, "where if you don't move it quickly, firstly, you don't get the rhythm of our play and it breaks down, and secondly, if you give it away in those areas it's dangerous. So you need ..."
At this point, Lampard paused, stopping himself from using some spicy language, before continuing, "... you need confidence to do that -- balls. Jorginho has it, and Billy has it."
His work rate was sensational, too. With around 20 minutes to go, Gilmour was visibly cramping up, stretching his hamstrings and calves out, and it looked like he couldn't go on a minute longer. The next time you looked up, he had sprinted 60 yards to get on the end of a Chelsea counterattack.
That came after a positional shift. Mason Mount -- whose opener was his first goal since early December -- came off with a knock, and Reece James subsequently filled in at the base of midfield, meaning Gilmour was moved to the right-sided "No. 8" role. "When he stepped up and played higher in the second half, he instantly took it on board," Lampard said, "arriving in their box, playing passes higher up the pitch. He showed he can do both, which is a great thing for me when I'm thinking of how the midfield looks."
He seems like the sort of player coaches dream about, always willing, demanding the ball, confident enough to boss much more senior colleagues around and with an almost zen-like constant awareness of everything around him.
"It's a bit mad, to be fair," said a wide-eyed Gilmour after the game, with that giddy look on his face that most youngsters have when thrown into a game like this.
So does this week mean Chelsea are back? Lampard played down the strength of their position in the Champions League places, which he is probably wise to do given the number of teams jostling just behind them, but if this performance is representative of the rest of their season, they should cruise to qualification.
"A bit wary of saying [Chelsea are back]," said Lampard. "The last couple of performances have looked like that, but I'm experienced enough to know we're playing Aston Villa next weekend, who are fighting for their lives. ... What we have to do is replicate what we've shown today. We've struggled for consistency, but who hasn't other than Liverpool? We have to work, as we worked today, to show we've got strength to improve."