Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to 11 points as they secured a fortunate win at Manchester City thanks to Joe Cole's late strike.
Cole tapped in at the back post after several deflections had gone Chelsea's way and David James had saved from Eidur Gudjohnsen's mis-hit effort.
City deserved a point for endeavour but never looked like scoring as Chelsea snuffed out their attacking threat.
Frank Lampard's run of 164 consecutive league games was ended by a virus.
Chelsea were lucky to leave the City of Manchester Stadium with all three points and they were lacking inspiration from the start.
It should have been no surprise really, as they were without midfield maestro Lampard in the league for the first time since 30 September 2001.
The England star was named in the original line-up, but was forced to end his record 164-game consecutive Premiership appearance run due to a virus.
They missed him early on too as City, roared on by a vocal crowd and a typically animated Stuart Pearce, had the better of the early stages.
Joey Barton fancied his chances of adding to three goals in his previous four games, first volleying at Petr Cech, before seeing his slide-rule finish saved by the Czech stopper's right leg.
Yet halfway through the half, the hosts were extremely fortunate to still be on level terms.
Drogba cleverly controlled a long ball over the top and as the ball trickled past James, the keeper caught Drogba's right leg and brought him crashing down in the area.
The Ivorian went off for treatment as if to strengthen his case for a penalty, but as he was ushered back on to the field he was spoken to by referee Uriah Rennie, to cheers from the home supporters.
As both sides looked tentative going forward it was a subdued affair, and Jose Mourinho waited only 13 minutes after the break to bring on Arjen Robben and Hernan Crespo.
Things barely livened up - only Nedum Onuoha's dangerous right-wing cross threatening to create a chance worthy of the name, John Terry comfortably clearing the danger.
It appeared as though the game was drifiting towards stalemate when City committed the error that cost them a point.
Sun Jihai kicked the ball against Robben and he found Gudjohnsen, whose bobbled effort was palmed away by James and cruelly deflected into Cole's path, giving him the easiest of tap-ins.
Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce:
"You don't anticipate anything in this game but we did hope our endeavour would have brought us something.
"It wasn't to be but my players could not have given me any more."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho:
"At this moment, Joe is untouchable. He was fantastic in every aspect of the game at Man City.
"Physically he was amazing. He's strong and has control under pressure. He is great one-on-one and has an appetite for goals. He is unbelievable.
"Overall, for us it is about winning. For the others it is about waiting for our mistakes."
Man City: James, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher (Ireland 89), Sinclair (Croft 82), Jihai, Barton, Vassell, Cole, Sibierski (Wright-Phillips 71).
Subs Not Used: Sommeil, De Vlieger.
Chelsea: Cech, Geremi, Gallas, Terry, Del Horno, Makelele, Gudjohnsen (Paulo Ferreira 83), Essien, Joe Cole, Drogba (Crespo 58), Duff (Robben 58).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Huth.
Booked: Del Horno.
Goals: Joe Cole 79.
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).