A team’s preparation for a cup final might include a few days’ carefree break somewhere warm, a communal meal to build team spirit and a lark around on the training ground, to aid relaxation.

It rarely involves temper tantrums, red cards, robotic press conferences and lottery numbers.

But that is how Chelsea are approaching the weekend’s League Cup final against Tottenham at Wembley… a game which now looks too close to call.

On paper, a home fixture against Burnley the weekend before the big day was just what the doctor ordered.

When the Blues scored in the first quarter of an hour, thanks to a soft Branislav Ivanovic shot after some mazy wizardry from Eden Hazard, it all looked rosy.

But the decisive second goal never came, Nemanja Matic blew a gasket after an ugly, unpunished tackle from Ashley Barnes, and his sending-off, coupled with a late equaliser by Burnley, turned the whole mood sour.

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Barring late appeals, he misses the cup final; a major setback as his pairing with Cesc Fabregas is one of the foundations of Chelsea success.

At the post-match press conference Jose Mourinho wore the hollow, fixed-stare expression of a parent at a press conference pleading for information about a missing teenager.

He restricted his criticism of Martin Atkinson to parroting the minutes of the referee’s alleged incompetence. “I repeat; 30, 33, 43 and 69,” he said, as if addressing a group of deaf old ladies in a bingo hall.

The Blues’ tactic in recent weeks has been to adopt a victim complex. The world’s against us.

Yet it’s Spurs that have the toughest week ahead of Sunday, with a Thursday night trip to Florence to face high-flying Fiorentina in the Europa League.

On paper it should swing the pendulum of fate back in Chelsea’s direction, but cup finals are difficult to second-guess, and an exhausting half hour of extra time is a distinct possibility.