Chelsea FC treated their UEFA Champions League audience to the kind of blistering goalscoring form that has lit up their domestic football, putting four goals past Real Betis Balompié to go top of Group G.
The Spanish side, losing to English opponents for the second time in the section, competed well in the early stages and unnerved Chelsea with their pace on the counter. However, once Didier Drogba had broken the deadlock in the 24th minute, there was no holding José Mourinho's team who went on to take their tally of goals in their last three fixtures to 13.
Mourinho made the first changes to his starting eleven in this season's competition. Already missing Arjen Robben and Damien Duff through injury, he chose to rest Petr Čech in favour of Carlo Cudicini, and played William Gallas at right-back ahead of Paulo Ferreira. That allowed Spaniard Asier Del Horno his first taste of the UEFA Champions League against familiar opponents.
Unsurprisingly, Llorenç Serra Ferrer stuck with the ten of the team that put Betis's first points on the board with victory over RSC Anderlecht on Matchday 2. With one exception: the Brazilian Edu was reinstated after injury kept him out of the first two games.
The match began at a ferocious pace with Shaun Wright-Phillips outstripping his marker with barely a minute gone. He dragged his shot beyond the far post. Betis replied in kind but with a touch more precision, Juanito Gutiérrez rising to meet a right-wing corner and heading firmly towards the corner of the net but Claude Makelele cleared off the line.
Suitably encouraged, Betis held siege momentarily and Stamford Bridge held its breath, a Joaquín Sánchez cross only narrowly eluding two team-mates who were in position to score. It was fast, furious and surprisingly open, as Betis backed up Ferrer's promise that they had come to win the tie.
That looked in doubt as Michael Essien headed wide and Joe Cole tested Antonio Doblas. But the Betis threat was quickly underlined again as Ricardo Oliveira gathered a cunning pass and from 20 metres unleashed a shot which Cudicini was pleased to beat away.
Drogba should have scored when Essien released Wright-Phillips in the 19th minute. The low centre begged to be put away but Drogba's left-footed shot lacked both conviction and contact, flying embarrassingly over.
That was forgotten six minutes later as Fernando Varela gave the ball away in the Chelsea half with disastrous results for Betis. Essien angled a cute pass to Drogba who squeezed the ball home.
Chelsea then doubled their lead with a minute remaining of the first half. Frank Lampard's free-kick should have proved a comfortable take for Doblas but, unbalanced, the goalkeeper dropped the ball at his feet and Ricardo Carvalho took gleeful advantage.
Drogba received a heavy blow in the move that produced the set-piece and failed to reappear after the interval with Hernán Crespo taking his place. That second goal seemed to rid the visitors of their earlier conviction and Chelsea were now dominant, their ability to string passes together a constant delight.
The third goal was constructed in just that fashion, Makelele, Crespo and Essien combining to set up Cole whose finish from the edge of the penalty area maintained the high standard of what had preceded it.
That came on the hour and the fourth goal, five minutes later, would have brought even the most jaundiced observer to their feet. From the centre circle Lampard found Wright-Phillips and, without breaking stride, the winger sent over a pinpoint cross on the run. Crespo, filling space behind David Rivas, had the simple job of heading home.