The two players with whom Mourinho destroyed Chelsea

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Inter’s impressive Champions League performance at Chelsea was signed, sealed and ready for delivery on Sunday morning on the club’s training pitch.

It was there that Jose Mourinho outlined his tactics to stifle and frustrate his old team – and he pulled two players out from the huddle to explain his modus operandi in the clearest manner possible.

The first player was Goran Pandev; the second, much more reluctant participant was Mario Balotelli.

Pandev had of course spent the first four months of the season kicking his heels at home as his contract dispute with Lazio stole away his career while Balotelli spent his time warming the bench doing little to further his own CV.

Mourinho informed his charges that Pandev would be in the team at Stamford Bridge while Balotelli, for his part, need not even dig out his passport.

Apparently the unruly teenager had turned up at the dressing room whistling the AC Milan club anthem, which obviously did not go down too well with his team-mates – and especially those battle-hardened warriors Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso.

Cambiasso & Zanetti, right for the fight last night

Mourinho had said little on the return trip from Catania so the players knew that the final session would be pivotal to how the team would approach their most important game of the season.

Not many would have been surprised to see Inter sitting back and holding out for a draw, but once again the Portuguese was ready to confound the norm.

The knowledge that Pandev and Samuel Eto’o would become the first line of defence, thus giving those further back time to hold their ground and protect the penalty area, would have raised spirits within the party.

The fact that Mourinho then tore a strip off a chastened Balotelli was another defining moment. The squad was united behind their leader and the subsequent press furore over the youngster’s banishment would deflect coverage away from London.

Massimo Moratti wasn't even informed beforehand that the player he believes is the “future of the club” would be left at home. However, the owner had to side with his authority figure in light of the teen’s teasing of his team-mates – and must then have green-lighted the leak that Balotelli’s agent had visited Milan’s offices for a chat on Monday morning.

Throwing everyone off the scent enabled Mourinho to get on with plotting his own course: once safely in London he basked in the glory of being back on the King’s Road and even paraded the players on the morning of the game.

Usually Italian teams are huddled in the hotel, concentrating on the task at hand, wrapped in a blanket of tension that can only be thrown off when they cross the white line. Instead, we had the sight of a thoroughly-relaxed bunch enjoying the spring sunshine like any other group of tourists.

The fact that the Mister was in his element to a greater extent than during his time in Italy probably made the players forget for a moment that they had a game that evening.

Even at Stamford Bridge, he took over the tunnel entrance as if it was his own private VIP area, meeting and greeting old friends along the way. It was as if he had never been away. Carlo Ancelotti even had to wait in line to have a quick word before shuffling off into the gloom.

Spot the ball: Jose takes his restricted-view seat

It was pure theatre until the players lined up; from there on it was substance that counted rather than glamour - and Inter had it in abundance. In all honesty Chelsea never really created a clear-cut chance while the Nerazzurri could have finished two or three goals up.

It wasn’t even one of those evenings where an Italian side was hanging on for dear life. Everyone looked relaxed and composed, very few passes went astray – and when they did, an eager team-mate was there to regain possession.

For Inter this can only be the starting point and maybe the players will look back to Sunday and say this is where Inter finally became Mourinho’s Inter.

Let’s hope they get Arsenal in the quarter-finals...

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