Carlo Ancelotti's decision to leave out Fernando Torres paid off as Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou fired Chelsea up to second in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-1 home win over Birmingham.
The champions beat Birmingham to become Manchester United's closest challengers, moving to within six points of the leaders and giving themselves a glimmer of hope of retaining their crown.
Once again looking far more comfortable in their tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation, Malouda and Kalou scored brilliant first-half goals, and the former struck again before Sebastian Larsson netted a consolation from the penalty spot.
Chelsea therefore capitalised on United's failure to win at Newcastle yesterday and, with a trip to Old Trafford to come, there is a slim chance they could yet snatch the title.
Realistically, though, they would need to win all their remaining games and, on the evidence of tonight, their best chance of doing so would be sticking with Drogba, Malouda and Kalou up front.
The failure of Torres - who came off the bench to extend his goal drought to 893 minutes - to earn a recall was significant as it was the first time he had not started after being on the bench in the previous match.