Manchester City were never going to surrender their Premier League crown without a fight, and they have moved ominously through the gears to draw level with Chelsea at the summit.
The Blues burst out of the blocks and quickly opened up a commanding lead, but they have seen that advantage slowly eroded.
Jose Mourinho’s men will edge clear again with a positive result at Stoke City on Monday, but they are now fully aware of City breathing down their neck.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side did endure a slight wobble early in the 2014/15 campaign, leading some doubters to write them off, but Pablo Zabaleta says they have worked hard to improve in important areas and he believes they are now right back in the mix and ready to challenge for back-to-back titles.
The Argentine defender said in the Daily Star: "We know we have enough talent in the team.
"We probably had to improve our performances collectively.
"In the way that we want the team to play, we were probably lacking intensity and concentration in some of the games and it cost us a few points.
"Now we are a solid team and the game against (Crystal) Palace was another clean sheet. We know when we defend like that, we have the quality to score goals and win the game.
"It is eight wins in a row. That shows the spirit that this team has at the moment compared with two months ago.
"At the time, we were not playing our best football and we kept working hard. Now the confidence is back and we are playing better."
City’s impressive run of form was sparked by a 2-1 victory over Swansea City, with that success followed by a memorable 3-2 win over Bayern Munich which kept their Champions League dream alive.
Pellegrini’s squad is now brimming with confidence and they are a formidable proposition for any opponent when on top of their game.
Chelsea will be aware of that and are probably counting down the days to a potentially pivotal clash with City at Stamford Bridge on January 31.