Chelsea must get by without John Terry over the Christmas and new year programme for the second successive season after their captain was yesterday ruled out for a 'minimum' of six weeks.
Terry, who was missing over a similar period last season because of a back problem which required surgery, was diagnosed almost exactly a year later with three broken bones in his foot.
Chelsea lost only at Liverpool in Terry's absence last time but were held to league draws by Reading, Fulham and Aston Villa over Christmas.
The Blues must nonetheless be hoping they can fare better without their captain 12 months on - having heard from club doctor Bryan English that, like last time, Terry may not be available again until February.
'We will continue to assess John over the next couple of days, but I would imagine he will be out for a minimum of six weeks,' English told Chelsea TV.
Terry was injured in a challenge with Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue in Sunday's 1-0 Premier League defeat at the Emirates Stadium, which left them third in the table and six points adrift of the Gunners at the top.
Last time around, it was subsequent champions Manchester United who led second-placed Chelsea both before and after Terry's mid-season injury.
As Chelsea prepare for a series of fixtures in which they ought to be able to prosper even without Terry, the England defender's availability for his country's first match under new coach Fabio Capello - against Switzerland on February 6 - becomes another imponderable.
Medical updates will therefore doubtless be sought on a daily basis - and the first of them followed scans yesterday.
'John Terry has fractured three bones in his right foot, including his third metatarsal,' Chelsea reported on their website, www.chelseafc.com.
English added: 'An x-ray taken in the Arsenal medical room straight after John left the field didn't show the injury.
'However, as is usual with mid-foot injuries, the fractures were revealed following scans - which were performed this afternoon.
'John will start his rehabilitation immediately with the Chelsea medical team, and we will continue to monitor the injury.'
Blues striker Salomon Kalou earlier revealed Eboue had apologised to Terry for the challenge which left him on crutches.
'I was saying to Eboue that it was a red card because he did it on purpose - but he denied that,' said Kalou.
'He said he tried to block the ball, and it was not on purpose. He said sorry to John. He didn't mean to do it - to apologise was a nice thing to do.
'John will be a big loss and is very important to the squad. We will miss him, and it will be difficult to do it without him. But we have the players to do that.'