Then, it was hard to imagine Chelsea beating anyone 5-1, let alone Tottenham in semi-final.
Now, though, Roberto Di Matteo’s side will face Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday knowing they already have booked an FA Cup final appearance with Liverpool on May 5.
On this occasion they benefited from an outrageous slice of luck when referee Martin Atkinson was virtually alone in believing he had seen Juan Mata’s 48th minute shot cross the line.
The decision may have influenced the course of the tie — it meant Spurs faced a two-goal deficit early in the second half — but Chelsea’s success in scoring three more took the sting out of the debate.
And while the scoreline may have exaggerated the dominance of Di Matteo’s side, Tottenham were well beaten long before the end of this tie.
Spurs played their part, dominating long periods of the first half and collapsing only when they became over-eager in their efforts to find a way back into the game.
But the decisive moments — Atkinson’s aside — were provided by the players Chelsea hope have the capacity to upset Barcelona.
Didier Drogba was outstanding, terrorising the Tottenham defence and producing a moment or real quality for the 43rd minute opening goal, as did Frank Lampard when he made it four nine minutes from time while Juan Mata was inspirational at times, scoring the disputed second and setting up Ramires and Florent Malouda as Chelsea ran riot in the final 20 minutes.
In amongst the steady stream of Chelsea goals, Gareth Bale struck in the 56th minute to make it 2-1 and provide Harry Redknapp’s side with hope they could find a route back into the game.
A combination of their own impatience and their opponents’ impressive control ensured they couldn’t and Spurs must now focus on fending off Chelsea and Newcastle in the race for fourth place in the Premier League.
Initially it seemed Tottenham’s front five was capable of unsettling Chelsea and Redknapp’s side quickly had their opponents backtracking as Luka Modric, Bale and Aaron Lennon made incisive runs deep from halfway. At one point even Scott Parker, supposedly the fulcrum at the base of the Spurs midfield, was allowed to drive into Chelsea penalty area before Ashley Cole frantically hacked the ball to safety.
The Chelsea defence though, marshalled by John Terry who was selected despite the risk of aggravating his rib problem ahead of Wednesday’s date with Barcelona, did enough to prevent Spurs adding end product to their vibrant forward moves.
Then when Cech was beaten in the 36th, Terry positioned himself superbly to clear Rafael van der Vaart’s header off the goal-line and the Holland forward suffered further disappointment when his long ball into the area eluded Adebayor and wrong-footed Cech, four minutes before the interval.
Chelsea’s attacking threat had been less prominent but then it didn’t need to be when Drogba remains capable of producing the a moment of brute force combined with outstanding skill that gave his side the lead. The Ivorian out-muscled William Gallas after collecting Cech’s long punt with his back to goal, turned to his right and struck a vicious, rising left foot drive that flew beyond Cudicini from 20 yards out.
Chelsea’s second, however, was far less convincing. Three minutes after the restart Cudicini saved well from a close-range Luiz header and Mata’s follow up shot deflected off Ledley King’s legs which, according to Atkinson, were behind the line.
Tottenham responded in the 56th minute when Scott Parker released Adebayor who rounded Cech with Bale following up to finish. The tie was again in the balance, but Spurs pressed to far, too quickly and Ramires restored the two-goal lead in the 77th minute from Mata’s pass.
Lampard made it four with a fierce long-range free kick four minutes later and Florent Malouda rounded things off in added time.
Barca may not be quaking in their boots, but Chelsea have at least given them something else to think about.