After it started so well, no-one could have predicted just how turbulent Chelsea's 2021/22 campaign would become - both on and off the pitch.
Those heady early months of the season when Thomas Tuchel's side actually held a lead at the top of the Premier League seem like a lifetime ago.
Wobbly form, injuries and Covid-19 cases were the story of a winter of discontent as Chelsea tumbled out of the title race before the new year had been rung in.
Success in the Club World Cup in February offered a brief reprieve, but that was followed by two painful domestic cup final penalty shootout defeats to Liverpool. In Europe, the Blues' defence of their Champions League crown ended in even more agonising fashion at the hands of Real Madrid, despite a remarkable turnaround in the Bernabeu.
If things on the pitch weren't dramatic enough, the final two-and-a-half months of Chelsea's season were overshadowed following the seismic news that the UK government had imposed sanctions on club owner Roman Abramovich following Russia's invasion of Ukraine - a result of the oligarch's close ties to the Kremlin and president Vladimir Putin.
In the end, two (smaller) trophies, two runners-up medals and a third-place finish in the Premier League felt like something of an achievement given the almighty distraction of off-field matters.
Chelsea 2021/22 player of the season
In a season where so many of Mason Mount's attacking colleagues struggled, the England international was the picture of consistency.
Generally operating from a right-forward position, the effervescent Mount was given the freedom to roam and was outstanding in terms of both chance creation and scoring himself.
The academy product ended the season as Chelsea's assist leader, while he is also their top goalscorer in the Premier League - including a streak of four games in a row in December.
Honourable mentions: Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva
Chelsea 2021/22 goal of the season
Mateo Kovacic vs Liverpool
A goal that could have easily won the overall goal of the season award.
Mateo Kovacic demonstrated outrageous technique to net this ludicrous volley against Liverpool back in January, with Chelsea holding a lead over the Reds in the Premier League at the time.
Keeping his eye on the ball as he back-pedalled beneath a dropping ball on the edge of the penalty area, Kovacic unleashed a fierce, dipping volley with minimal back-lift that cannoned in off the post.
Chelsea had been 2-0 down, but the Croatian's strike would inspire them to a first-half comeback.
Honourable mentions: Hakim Ziyech vs Tottenham, Antonio Rudiger vs Brentford
Chelsea 2021/22 performance of the season
Chelsea 4-0 Juventus
Generally a pretty pragmatic side, Chelsea tend not to do thrashings.
This comprehensive dismantling of illustrious Juventus was a pleasant surprise, then. Avenging a defeat in Turin earlier in the group stage, Chelsea ran riot at Stamford Bridge with an all-round display that oozed class.
Even more pleasing was that three of the four goalscorers were academy products: Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James (who shone) and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Honourable mention: Tottenham 0-3 Chelsea, Chelsea 7-0 Norwich, Southampton 0-6 Chelsea
Chelsea 2021/22 signing of the season
Thiago Silva (new contract)
If things do not start going to plan, the 2021 summer transfer window is likely to live in infamy for Chelsea supporters.
Chelsea's two big signings of the summer were Romelu Lukaku from Inter for a cool £97.5m, and Saul Niguez on loan from Atletico Madrid. Neither player came anywhere close to matching expectations.
The Blues did manage one smart piece of business in January, tying veteran centre-back Thiago Silva down with a one-year contract extension.
Chelsea 2021/22 most improved player
Had you told any Chelsea supporter before the start of the season that Trevoh Chalobah would be a first-team starter - and impressing at that - then they would have laughed in your face.
While he isn't necessarily head coach Tuchel's first-choice centre-back, Chalobah has been outstanding when called upon this season and proven himself to be a valuable squad player, with his tackling and recovery pace particularly impressive.
His chance of game time will only increase next season with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen departing the club.
Honourable mention: Kai Havertz, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Chelsea 2021/22 disappointment of the season
There's no getting away from this one.
Although he ended the season as Chelsea's top scorer in all competitions, Romelu Lukaku's Stamford Bridge comeback simply hasn't gone to plan - and the player is partly to blame for that.
After he had hit the ground running, a barren spell was followed by an injury, a bout of Covid-19 and a now-infamous, ill-advised interview with Italian media where he admitted his love for former club Inter, which - inevitably - went down like a lead balloon with Chelsea fans.
From that point on he was up against it with his manager and the fans, struggling to even get into the team ahead of the impressive Kai Havertz.
Although he finished strongly, much, much more will be expected of Lukaku - if he is still at Stamford Bridge.
Dishonourable mentions: Timo Werner, Saul Niguez, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech
Listen now to 90min's Chelsea podcast Wherever You May Be, hosted by Olivia Buzaglo. Each week, Olivia and guests Krishan Davis & Anita Abayomi talk all things blue. In our latest episode, the team discuss Antonio Rudiger's departure, Chelsea's recent form and Reece James.
Chelsea 2021/22 most appearances
- Antonio Rudiger - 54 (34 Premier League, 9 Champions League, 5 FA Cup, 3 Carabao Cup, 2 Club World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup)
- Mason Mount - 53 (32 Premier League, 7 Champions League, 6 Carabao Cup, 5 FA Cup, 2 Club World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup)
- Edouard Mendy - 49 (34 Premier League, 9 Champions League, 3 FA Cup, 1 Carabao Cup, 1 Club World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup)
- Thiago Silva - 48 (32 Premier League, 9 Champions League, 3 FA Cup, 2 Carabao Cup, 2 Club World Cup)
- Jorginho - 47 (29 Premier League, 8 Champions League, 4 FA Cup, 4 Carabao Cup, 1 Club World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup)
Chelsea 2021/22 top scorers
- Romelu Lukaku - 15 (8 Premier League, 2 Champions League, 3 FA Cup, 2 Club World Cup)
- Kai Havertz - 14 (8 Premier League, 3 Champions League, 2 Carabao Cup, 1 Club World Cup)
- Mason Mount - 13 (11 Premier League, 1 Champions League, 1 FA Cup)
- Timo Werner - 11 (4 Premier League, 4 Champions League, 2 FA Cup, 1 Carabao Cup)
- Jorginho - 9 (6 Premier League, 2 Champions League, 1 Carabao Cup)
Chelsea 2021/22 top assists
- Mason Mount - 16 (10 Premier League, 2 Champions League, 3 FA Cup, 1 Carabao Cup
- Reece James - 10 (9 Premier League, 1 Carabao Cup)
- Hakim Ziyech - 6 (3 Premier League, 2 Champions League, 1 Carabao Cup)
- Marcos Alonso - 6 (5 Premier League, 1 Carabao Cup)
- Kai Havertz - 6 (4 Premier League, 1 FA Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup)
Chelsea 2021/22 record in all competitions
- Premier League - P38, W21, D11, L6, GF 76, GA 33, GD +43, Pts 74, Position 3rd
- FA Cup - P6, W5, L1, GF 15, GA 4, GD +10, runners-up
- Carabao Cup - P6, W5, L1, GF 7, GA 2, GD +5, runners-up
- Champons League - P10, W7, D1, L2, GF 21, GA 10, GD +11, quarter-finals
- Club World Cup - P2, W2, L0, GF 3, GA 1, GD +2, winners
- UEFA Super Cup - P1, W1, GF 1, GA 1, GD 0, winners