homas Tuchel’s priority is to stop this season from going into freefall.
With just three games left of this exhausting season, Tuchel needs to ensure the rot is not allowed to set in with so much still at stake.
But the looks on the faces of Reece James, Mason Mount and co will have the German concerned.
Confidence is a fragile beast.
The wave of optimism that swept them to the finals of the FA Cup and Champions League – and up to third in the League – feels a long way off after defeats to Arsenal and now Leicester City.
Youri Tielemans’ wonder goal saw that Chelsea were beaten finalists for the second season in succession – and Tuchel could have no great complaints after seeing a first trophy in English football slip through his grasp.
Just as against Arsenal in midweek, his team did not do enough to deserve anything else.
In back-to-back games they have lost by a single goal.
Against Arsenal it was the result of an individual blunder from Jorginho – here it was an absolute bullet.
It does not matter how they come, if you cannot score at the other end, it will only ever take one goal to beat you.
That is the pressure Chelsea’s misfiring forwards are placing on their defence.
Once again their lack of cutting edge cost them.
Timo Werner was at his most frustrating – running into legs, firing anywhere but on target and repeatedly taking the wrong decision.
Tuchel’s own fury with the German was evident in the second half as he remonstrated with him for telegraphing yet another run.
Hakim Ziyech – the hero of the semi-final – could not find a decisive final ball at several times of asking. And it was not until late in the game that substitute Ben Chilwell and then Mason Mount forced Kasper Schmeichel into meaningful saves.
Two games cannot be allowed to erase the outstanding work done by Tuchel and Chelsea so far – but the uncomfortable truth is that the next two weeks could.
Chelsea went into the game knowing their entire season would rest on four games.
In a turbulent campaign that has seen them go from Premier League leaders to a slump so alarming that it cost Frank Lampard his job, Tuchel admitted the Cup Final could prove a springboard to a spectacular conclusion.
With a potential top four decider against Leicester again on Tuesday and the Champions League final on May 29, Wembley needed to be the start to a perfect end to the season to guarantee Chelsea’s ambitions.
The Arsenal defeat still had Tuchel fuming as recently as the eve of this match, with the Chelsea manager planning a 20-minute meditation session to help his focus as he went in search of his first trophy since taking over at Stamford Bridge.
It was a disarmingly frank admission – but also evidence of how damaging that out of character performance could be to his side.
The hope for Chelsea was this it would provide a timely kick up the backside before a season-defining period, as opposed to the beginning of a collapse.
What it did do was raise a genuine question as to which of these back-to-back games against Leicester was more important to either club.
While both Tuchel and Brendan Rodgers were both in search of their first piece of silverware at their respective clubs, Champions League is absolutely vital.
For Tuchel, it was a minimum requirement laid out by Marina Granovskaia when he took charge in January – a target he relayed to his players during their first meeting.
But there was sense of him prioritising the league fixture as he named close to his strongest team in the absence of the injured Andreas Christensen, with Werner and Ziyech coming in for Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic, who were so underwhelming against Arsenal.
Marcos Alonso also replaced Chilwell – with Tuchel citing his aerial presence as the reason for his inclusion.
For all the changes made, Chelsea’s problems from midweek continued, with another frustrating performance in attack.
While the pace and movement of Mount, Werner and Ziyech caused Leicester problems, decision-making and finishing quality repeatedly saw promising openings come to nothing.
Werner was a repeated offender when it came to his final ball or shot on goal.
Chelsea dominated possession, but Leicester had their moments – Caglar Soyuncu was twice getting on the end of set pieces and Jamie Vardy heading wide before the break.
For a game lacking in quality in the final third, the goal to break the deadlock was a Cup Final classic.
The otherwise superb Reece James tried to play the ball out from defence, only to see it cut out before the half-way line.
Tielemans seized on it, drove forward and fired a 25-yard effort into Kepa Arrizabalaga’s top corner.
The sense of urgency then set in for a Chelsea side that never looked confident in their ability to chase the game.
Chilwell’s header had Schmeichel scrambling across his goal to save – and the goalkeeper pulled off a Cup-winning stop when pushing away Mount’s powerful effort from inside the box shortly after.
Chelsea and Chilwell thought they had forced extra time when Wes Morgan bundled the ball over his own line, only for VAR to rule it out for offside.
It would have been harsh on Leicester.
Chelsea, meanwhile, do not have time to feel sorry for themselves.
One down, three games to go to define their season.