He would also have taken enormous encouragement from the sight of Lucio delivering such a commanding performance against Didier Drogba and from the way his forwards exposed frailties in John Terry that are so rarely seen.
And he would have taken pride in just about shading the tactical battle with his bitter adversary on the opposing bench.
Tardelli-esque: Esteban Cambiasso celebrates his stunning strike
Mourinho displayed a deeper understanding of Chelsea than Carlo Ancelotti seemed to possess of an Inter side that, in fairness to the Italian, has undergone a major overhaul since he left the red half of Milan for Stamford Bridge last May.
MATCH FACTSINTER MILAN (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar 7; Maicon 7, Samuel 7, Lucio 6, Zanetti 6; Stankovic 6 (Muntari 84), Cambiasso 8, Thiago Motta 6 (Balotelli 58, 6); Sneijder 7; Eto'o 5 (Pandev 67, 6), Milito 7
Booked: Thiago Motta, Milito
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech 6 (Hilario 61, 6); Ivanovic 5, Terry 6, Carvalho 6, Malouda 6; Ballack 6, Mikel 6, Lampard 6; Anelka 5, Drogba 7, Kalou 7
Man of the match: Esteban Cambiasso.
Referee: Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez (Sp).
Had Samuel Eto'o not squandered a wonderful opportunity midway through the opening half, Chelsea could now be in serious trouble.
But Ancelotti will relish the opportunity to get the self-anointed Special One back to his place; relish the chance to remind Mourinho that, for all the success his side enjoyed in this enthralling first leg, Chelsea can use the away goal they scored to their advantage and progress to the last eight.
There remains a psychological battle for the leaders of the Barclays Premier League to win.
They have suffered so much misfortune in this competition they are sure to fret over the potential significance of the penalty they were denied shortly before half-time. It was a clear foul by Walter Samuel on Salomon Kalou, one that could have earned a red card, and Chelsea can only hope it will not be filed away for another season with the 'ghost' goals and missed penalties of their painful past.
Instead, they have to remind themselves of the dominance they enjoyed. The 18 shots they unleashed to Inter's eight. The three corners they earned with no reply. The 56 per cent of possession that pointed to their superior strength in midfield.
Inter were powerful, physical and brilliantly organised by Mourinho. But although Chelsea will renew hostilities at Stamford Bridge next month in a precarious position, it remains one from which they can succeed.
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They will curse themselves as much as their luck.
It was Terry who invited Diego Milito to open the scoring and Petr Cech who was then beaten at his near post. There was another degree of hesitation in defence that allowed Esteban Cambiasso to follow his fellow Argentine in scoring less than four minutes after Kalou had levelled.
The fact that Cech then disappeared with what looked like a nasty injury added to Chelsea's problems.
Mourinho would have enjoyed the reception Ancelotti received. A deafening chorus of boos for the former AC Milan boss echoed around this magnificent sporting cathedral, just as it did when Fabio Capello appeared on the giant screens.
But more satisfying than that would have been the sight of Lucio obeying orders. It took him a mere 43 seconds to leave his mark on Drogba with a crunching challenge that gave a hint of the physical battering to come.
Inter's Raging Bull: Thiago Motta seems more like Jake LaMotta as he floors Chelsea, first crunching through full back Ivanovic (left), and then kicking Michael Ballack in the face during a fiercely physical encounter in the San Siro
When Mourinho said Drogba would break his legs for Chelsea, he didn't say he would offer him some help.
A more devastating blow would soon follow, though, a goal after less than three minutes and one, much to the disappointment of Chelsea, that Inter scored with impressive ease.
What started with a surging run from Javier Zanetti continued with two neatly executed passes from Thiago Motta and Eto'o before Milito cut inside a pedestrian Terry and unleashed a right-foot shot that embarrassed Cech.
43 seconds. is all it took for Inter Milan to leave their mark on Didier Drogba with this aggressive challenge by the Brazilian, Lucio. It went unpunished
Aware that 177 minutes of this tie remained, Mourinho remained calm and in his seat. But the momentum as well as the advantage remained with the Italians, and Milito's South American skills continued to trouble the Chelsea defence.
From Drogba, however, there was always a potential threat, with a 15th minute free-kick that crashed against the angle of right-hand post and crossbar serving notice of his intention to deliver a counter blow.
Drogba almost scored again seconds later, only for Julio Cesar to make the save on the second occasion. He would go close with a volley, too.
Chelsea were playing with intelligence. The deployment of FrankLampard in a slightly more advanced role on the left was certainlykeeping Maicon busy and so protecting Florent Malouda, who in theabsence of the injured Ashley Cole and Yuri Zhirkov had to play at leftback.
Juliano Belletti was clearly not considered readyhaving trained only twice since returning from a month on the sidelineswith a knee problem.
Stunning start: Diego Milito gave the hosts the perfect opening with this third minute effort
But the best opportunity before the break fell to Eto'o, who really should have scored when a move that started with a wonderful pass from Maicon ended with a cross from Wesley Sneijder that was delivered to the former Barcelona striker's feet.
It seemed certain Eto'o would score, but he somehow got the ball trapped under his studs and enabled Chelsea to clear the danger.
For all the possession Chelsea were enjoying, this was classic Mourinho. Inter had been well prepared for the challenge Chelsea posed, allowing the Italians to overcome their obvious deficiencies.
That said, the first half still could have ended with Chelsea back on level terms rather than in protest at what Terry and his team-mates considered a gross injustice.
They surrounded Manuel Gonzalez in response to his refusal to award a penalty for what they considered to be a foul by Samuel on Kalou.
Television replays suggested they were right, even if Kalou undermined his case with the theatrical way in which he crashed to the ground.
No penalty? Salomon Kalou collapses under Walter Samuel's scythe
Chelsea's sense of injustice was eased six minutes after the break when a darting run by Branislav Ivanovic suddenly presented Kalou with the chance to beat Julio Cesar with a right-foot shot from 20 yards.
But when Chelsea's failure to close down Cambiasso resulted in a second for Inter, a quite brilliant long-range shot, the advantage was once again with Mourinho's men.
Whether it is an advantage they can protect, however, remains to be seen. Lampard went desperately close to equalising when he met a ball from Nicolas Anelka with a shot that brought the best out of Julio Cesar and many more such opportunities will come at Stamford Bridge.
But Mourinho is smart and if he organises his side as well as he did on this occasion, Chelsea could yet be reflecting on another opportunity that has been cruelly snatched from their grasp. One wonders how their nerves continue to take it.
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