As setbacks go, John Terry has certainly suffered more serious ones in the last week.
But this would have hurt the Chelsea captain and not just because his team squandered an opportunity to extend their lead to four points at the summit of the Barclays Premier League.
It would have hurt him because the abuse he received was so relentless and so, so personal. The chants. The boos. He might still be the England captain but not in the minds of the majority of those in the KC Stadium last night.
To them he appears to have become both public enemy No 1 as well as a laughing stock. 'Ashley, Ashley, watch your wife,' they sang when Cheryl Cole's other half ran on from the bench, and while the line was delivered with a fair bit of humour it would have struck a nerve with the man at the centre of this extraordinary scandal.
Equaliser: Drogba scores a free-kick on his return from the Africa Cup of Nations
Judging by his reaction to Didier Drogba's equaliser, it is clearlygetting to him. While his colleagues went to congratulate thegoal-scorer, Terry stared down the most vocal section of the Hull crowdas he sprinted the full length of the pitch.
It was the only real insight into a troubled mind. The only evidencethat the storm that engulfs him off the pitch is starting to affect hisperformances on it.
Terry has not always been in the right place at the right time inrecent weeks, as even he might admit, but he did not do much wrong hereagainst a Hull side playing the finest football of their season.
He gave a composed, assured display at the centre of the Chelseadefence, and had Michael Ballack been half as effective defensively,the league leaders might well have recorded a seventh straight win.
Put a sock in it!Terry responds to the Hull fans following Drogba's equaliser
As it was, Ballack allowed Steven Mouyokolo to score the goal thatsent Phil Brown's struggling but spirited side into the lead and leftit to Drogba to steal a point back.
The return of Drogba was an interesting one, and a decision CarloAncelotti can easily justify with the goal his finest striker producedshortly before the interval. It was Drogba's eighth goal in nine gamesfor Chelsea, albeit with a month-long break between the last two.
But that might have been the problem, because while Drogba has beenaway at the Africa Cup of Nations his colleagues have actually beendoing rather well. That straight run of wins after what had been adifficult December. Not to mention 19 goals in the five games thatDrogba had missed.
In particular it has been Nicolas Anelka who has thrived, Anelka whohas so enjoyed playing at the pinnacle of the Chelsea attack. But lastnight Drogba returned to his usual position, Anelka was pushed outright and it all looked a bit, well, unfamiliar.
They lacked theirusual fluency; struggled to attack with their usual finesse. Whetherthe Terry controversy has caused further disruption is hard to say.Ancelotti insisted not last night, declaring that 'nothing willdisturb' their 'concentration'.
But you do have to wonder if the chaos that currently surrounds theChelsea team has had a subliminal effect. If now that the can of wormshas been opened there is tension behind the scenes.
On me ead! Steven Mouyokolo scores to give Hull the lead at the KC Stadium
Only time will tell, and right now, as they sit two points clear ofManchester United, they still look like a team more than capable ofwinning this season's championship.
And if they need to draw inspiration from their leader, Terry isstill somehow setting an example in a purely sporting sense. The winnerat Burnley last weekend was followed by another solid performance.
Look who's back: Drogba celebrates his equaliser
Clearly there is ice flowing through his veins as well as vast quantities of testosterone.
He was showered with taunts every time he touched the ball lastnight. 'Same old Terry, always cheating.' 'Terry, Terry, where's yourwife?' All fairly predictable stuff but something that must have beendifficult to ignore.
That did not stop Chelsea making a decent start though, FrankLampard unleashing a shot that Boaz Myhill could only parry into thepath of Anelka. Fortunately for Hull, Anelka wasted the chance with amis-hit effort that spun away to safety.
Hull started well too, though, not least in the form of StephenHunt. The Ireland winger will forever be remembered at Chelsea for thecollision that left Petr Cech nursing a career-threatening head injurybut last night he caused Branislav Ivanovic more problems thanAncelotti perhaps would have liked. Tom Cairney, a 19-year-old Scotmaking only his second start for Hull, was also terrific.
Terry was nevertheless doing what was required. A crunching interception here. A headed clearance there. He might have remained silent since those revelations firstemerged but it did not stop him barking orders at his fellow players.
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