Chelsea have said they need to keep their finances under control this summer as they seek to sign the "real strikers" Jose Mourinho believes the club desperately needs.
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For the first time since Roman Abramovich took over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, the Blues’ wage bill for the financial year -- the latest being for the 2012-13 season -- was lower than Manchester United's.
The wage bill recorded a 176 million pound cost, six million pounds less than at Old Trafford, while Manchester City's wage bill for the same season was 233 million pounds.
Chelsea's latest accounts, reported by the Press Association, read: "The introduction of UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) regulations from the 2011-12 season provides a significant challenge.
"The football club needs to continue to balance success on the field together with the financial imperatives of this new regime."
The increasingly prudent approach reflects Chelsea's commitment to complying with FFP rules, which dictate that clubs in European competition can only record losses of 37.5 million pounds during the first two-year accounting period.
New Premier League rules also restrict wage bill increases, insisting any big rises have to be linked to new, profitable commercial deals.
Chelsea's new approach will make life complicated in the transfer market with Mourinho likely to have to sell players before he can buy the quality replacements he wants.
The Portuguese continues to deride his misfiring strikeforce, with 50 million pound flop Fernando Torres, unfancied Demba Ba and ageing Samuel Eto'o all set to leave in the summer, according to the Daily Telegraph.
However, Mourinho may find himself on a collision course with the club's cost controllers over big-name signings such as Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, who is valued at 32 million pounds.
Romelu Lukaku also looks to be heading for the Stamford Bridge exit door after spending most of his Chelsea career on loan at other clubs.
The combined revenue and cost savings from a major clear-out would be considerable, which they would need to be.
All the departures are not forgone conclusions, though. While Ba admits he could leave, Eto'o becomes a free agent in the summer and Lukaku is the subject of interest from Everton and Tottenham, Torres' reported wages of 175,000 pounds a week and his original 50 million pound transfer fee will make him a tough prospect to move on.
The Spain international’s position -- he has two years left on his contract -- is such that there has been speculation he may need to be compensated by Chelsea if he is to accept a lower-rate deal elsewhere, while talk of a loan move has also been touted in the British media.
The sale of valued players such as Eden Hazard and Oscar, meanwhile, may also have to be considered.
What is clear from Chelsea's latest accounts -- and Mourinho's repeated references to the constraints of FFP -- is that the club take, and will continue to take, the potential threat of punishment for breaching UEFA's new rules seriously.
Mourinho's first stint at Chelsea, from 2004-07, came at the start of the Abramovich era and was characterised by huge transfer spending.
The latest figures are in stark contrast to those of 10 years ago, when Deloitte's annual football finance review estimated the Blues’ wage bill of 115 million pounds in 2003-04 as being "almost certainly the highest in world football."
In that year, Abramovich's first full season at Chelsea, the club registered a 110 percent increase in wages.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report