Fulham forced to swallow more unwelcome Chelsea medicine in 'most one-sided derby'
Chelsea 1-0 Fulham
Fulham were camped in their own third of the pitch from the word go, struggling to escape the constricting Chelsea press.
Marco Silva was soon flapping his arms in repeated frustration on the touchline as the ball kept being lost to their bitter rivals.
Even then, the outcome looked nailed-on. And so it proved. A first-half stoppage time penalty from Cole Palmer was all it took this time to preserve an all-too familiar narrative.
Welcome to the most one-sided derby in English football.
Even when the Blues have been average and the Whites pretty good, this west London derby seems to have gone this way.
Most clashes between neighbours end up with one team having a narrow margin of dominance - a ratio of say, 1.33 wins for Arsenal to every one for Spurs or 1.28 wins for Man United to every one win for Man City. Newcastle are only just in credit against Sunderland.
Only two of those clashes between local rivals has a ratio of two to one - West Ham v Millwall and Southampton v Portsmouth.
Then there is Chelsea v Fulham.
This fixture is way out on its own. Last season's wonderful moment for Carlos Vinicius which gave the Whites a famous 2-1 win at the Cottage was only the 10th win in 50 encounters in all competitions. Make that 10 in 51 now. As the Americans might say: You do the math.'
It is now nearly 45 years since Fulham last won at Stamford Bridge. October 1979's 2-0 win was so long ago, Margaret Thatcher had only just come to power. There have been 21 fruitless attempts since then.
It could be argued that Fulham's Carabao Cup semi-final in midweek at Anfield had been far more stressful and demanding than Chelsea's at Middlesbrough, because the Whites really did seem to find it difficult to locate the necessary intensity to get to grips with the Blues.
They seemed slower in thought and deed, with the hosts winning most of the duels and fifty-fifties. Tom Cairney was given no time on the ball and there was no outlet when they did have possession and wanted to get forward quickly.
Raul Jimenez did finally test keeper Djordje Petrovic in the second half when the Whites finally showed a little zest - they would have copped a fearful earful from Silva at the break. Ex-Blues man Willian blazed a free-kick just over.
There was a late flurry of sorts from Fulham as Chelsea suddenly remembered they were not great and began to panic a little. But the Whites did not do enough to get anything from the contest - as has all-too often been the way for them against the one team they would rather not be struggling against.
The hopes must surely be that if they can somehow overcome Liverpool in their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg, they don't end up meeting Chelsea in the final at Wembley. We can all guess how that one would probably end.