One would imagine that a club's two-time player of the year thanks to a (two Premier League season) haul of 47 goals and assists spread over 69 matches to average a goal/assist every 111 minutes would be an ever-present in his favoured position the following campaign.
Not Juan Mata, 25, who has been overlooked in the hole behind the striker because of the burgeoning of Oscar and has accumulated just 774 minutes of Premier League football despite being available for every single minute due to a consistently high personal fitness.
While Mourinho has a number of attack-minded midfielders competing for three roles in his starting XI: Andre Schurrle, Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Mata, the Portuguese had long insinuated that he wanted to keep all his players together, rather than face the prospect of losing one in the current transfer window.
By bringing Mata off after just 52 minutes against Southampton, Jose, though, could end up inundated with transfer bids from opportunistic rivals looking to rescue Juan.
When the Spaniard returned to the substitutes bench, he appeared perplexed - even angered - and, while BBC chief sports writer argues the end result (3-0) vindicates Mourinho, it may well push the player out of Stamford Bridge. As quoted by The Mirror, Mourinho said: 'my door is open and the club’s door is open too. When a player wants to speak with us we are there waiting.'
Statistically, the root of Mata's frustration is arguably down to the fact that he was performing well. He had completed 75% of his tackling attempts, succeded in 100% of his clearances and even found a team-mate with every single one of his attempted passes (100% pass accuracy, or 96% depending on data provider used).
The irony of course is that it is precisely those stats that will attract managers such as David Moyes, as the Manchester United manager must surely be desperate to attract a proven playmaker of Mata's ilk to Old Trafford in order to rejuvenate his ailing Red Devils this season.
According to the Mirror, Moyes will join Internazionale in bidding for Mata - but Chelsea may only do business with another English club if the offer is exceptional (he is currently valued by transfermarkt.co.uk at £39.5m).
If Moyes man managed Mata to replicate last season's form then he would surely represent money well spent…
Mata has also been linked with Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint Germain and Tottenham Hotspur.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald