Jose Mourinho is facing a battle to prove that he is not scapegoating the wrong players for Chelsea’s disastrous start to the season.
Chelsea manager Mourinho left Oscar, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao in England for Chelsea’s Champions League defeat to Porto, while captain John Terry remained on the substitutes’ bench.
The decisions over Oscar, Remy and Terry, coupled with the fact Branislav Ivanovic kept his place at right-back despite his terrible form and the growing belief that his focus has been affected by unresolved contract negotiations, sent shockwaves through the club's squad.
With Chelsea in 14th place in the Premier League and now third in Champions League Group G, Mourinho’s actions are facing greater scrutiny from inside and outside the club.
Mourinho insisted that his team selection for Tuesday night was not a form of punishment for Oscar, Remy or on-loan Falcao, and the Portuguese has consistently refused to publically criticise individuals this season.
But having seen Mourinho complain about the “unstable attitudes” of some unnamed players, the view from inside the camp is that Oscar and Remy paid the price for the first-half performance against Newcastle United last weekend, which Mourinho rated as “minus one.”
Oscar and Remy are now becoming increasingly resigned to the fact that they face uncertain futures at Chelsea while Mourinho is in charge.
Both players were open to the possibility of leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer, but neither Oscar nor Remy pushed the issue with Mourinho or the club.
Oscar would have joined Juventus if Chelsea had agreed to sell to the Italians, while Remy was interested in the prospect of remaining in London with West Ham United or Crystal Palace, or moving back to France.
It remains to be seen whether or not Chelsea will be able to do the incoming business that would allow Oscar and Remy to move in the January transfer window, but the pair are not optimistic they will last past next summer.
Mourinho’s reservations over Oscar have confused some of the Brazilian’s team-mates, who believe the 24-year-old is vital to the side playing cohesively.
The situation regarding Ivanovic is more complicated, with the defender’s future uncertain, even though Mourinho keeps picking him.
It is not viewed as a coincidence that the form of 31-year-old Ivanovic dipped last season, when stories started to appear that he was unhappy with the prospect of only being a offered a one-year contract extension.
Ivanovic was subsequently linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, but Chelsea called the defender’s bluff by refusing to be panicked into accepting his demands and allowed the Serb to start this season with only 12 months remaining on his current deal.
The negotiating position of Ivanovic has now been severely weakened by his poor performances and the fact he has offered little evidence on the pitch that he is worthy of a long-term contract.
It is hard to fathom, therefore, why Ivanovic was made vice-captain for the season and continues to be picked by Mourinho while others are left at home and Terry has dropped down to the substitutes’ bench.
Unlike Ivanovic, Terry is philosophical over his contract situation after being made to wait until May and March to secure extensions for the past two years.
The 34-year-old is far more focussed on trying to win his place back and prove to Mourinho he is still the man for the big occasion.
With Terry on the bench and the likes of Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech now gone, Chelsea once again lacked leadership on the pitch in Porto.
Cesc Fabregas was the one man trying to lead by example and was constantly talking to his team-mates, but there are no longer authoritative voices all over the pitch.
Former Chelsea defender and talkSPORT host Jason Cundy, who still has close ties to the club, went public in his view that Mourinho has got it wrong over Terry and Ivanovic.
“Something is bugging me at Chelsea – if you’re going to drop John Terry, that’s the manager’s decision and whether you agree or disagree you have to go with that,” said Cundy.
"But to give the armband to Ivanovic, who is having a really tough time at the moment and has arguably been Chelsea’s worst player this season, what does that say to the best defender Chelsea had last season in John Terry?
"If you’re going to drop him, that’s fine, it happens in football, but I think Mourinho is sending out a message.
“John Terry hasn’t played badly this season and I think he’s been really unfairly treated. I don’t think he’s played badly enough for him to be on the bench.”