In normal times, the third round of the FA Cup would be an enjoyable distraction from pursuit of Premier League glory.

But Chelsea are still getting the ship on an even keel after steering too close to the rocks under captain Maverick.

The steadying hand of the Golden Guus on the tiller gave the crew the stability needed at Selhurst Park to produce an integrated team performance in a comprehensive 3-0 away win.

It reinforces a nagging thought (once thought sacrilegious) that Jose Mourinho’s management tactics are dandy during spells of success, but the last thing needed in times of trouble.

Guus Hiddink is undemonstrative, thoughtful and observant. Far removed from The Special One.

A negative? He lacks Jose’s game-changing substitution skills.

No need for tactical changes against Palace, however.

With near-bottom facing near-top, this could have been tricky, but Chelsea weathered the Eagles’ storm (and a non-stop drenching) to emerge supreme, with a possession/passing game that was a pleasure to watch.

Diego Costa has rediscovered his positioning skills, providing an assist for Oscar and being in the right place to tap in Chelsea’s third, but it is Willian’s continued rise which is most exciting.

The scorer of Chelsea’s second – a veritable scorcher – he is likely to be a shoo-in as club player of the year.

In his last spell at the Bridge (a third-place finish), Hiddink favoured John Obi Mikel in front of the back four.

The selection, with the exception of one reckless tackle, was fully justified at Palace. The Blues’ travelling army joyously chanted Mikel’s name, and cheered his every touch.

Half a dozen first-teamers will be rested for Sunday’s visit by Scunthorpe in the cup, especially Eden Hazard, who limped off at Selhurst Park with a groin strain that needs attention.

That’s followed by two crucial home games in three days, with Chelsea now only 10 points behind United in fifth.