Two goals in three first-half minutes from Didier Drogba were enough for Chelsea to post a comfortable victory over depleted Manchester City.
Didier Drogba celebrates his second goal against Man City
Drogba took his season's tally to 13 after he latched onto a throughball from Eidur Gudjohnsen.
He fired home a second from six yards, despite complaints from City defenders he brought the ball down with his arm.
City skipper Sylvain Distin continued his arguments at half-time and was sent off for a second booking.
Travelling to the home of the champions without 10 regular first-team players was always going to be a tough proposition for Stuart Pearce's side.
But they contributed to their own downfall when Distin, one of their most experienced hands in a youthful side, hardly showed the best example by getting himself sent off.
He may have been justified in voicing his dissatisfaction after Drogba appeared to handle in controlling the ball before firing home his side.
But there was little excuse for continuing his discussion with referee Rob Styles after the half-time whistle.
There was little doubt Chelsea were two goals better than City in the first half. The only surprise was that it took them half an hour to break the deadlock.
Gudjohnsen and Drogba had both missed good chances before the pair combined for the opener.
Gudjohnsen slipped the ball through to the Ivory Coast striker and, after twisting past David Sommeil, David James was left with no chance as he fired home from 12 yards.
Before City had time to regroup and adjust the five-in-midfield system that had held the champions at bay, the home side netted a second.
James had pulled off a good save from John Terry's header but City were still unable to clear.
The ball eventually fell to Drogba who, after appearing to control it with his arm, fired home from six yards.
The anticipated second-half capitulation did not materialise.
Chelsea were somewhat guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net, although James did make a good save from Joe Cole as the Blues swarmed forward.
City certainly showed plenty of plucky spirit, in keeping with their manager's famous characteristics but, with the job completed by Drogba's two goals, there was no need for Chelsea to stretch themselves.
Danny Mills came closest to cutting the margin when his long-range free-kick hit the post.
There was almost a fairytale finish for Shaun Wright-Phillips, after he fired across the face of goal after coming on as a substitute against his former club.
But that would have been mere decoration. The collection of three points had been pretty comfortable.
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba:
"It was a difficult game and when we got the goal there was more space for us to play in.
"Yes, it was handball but sometimes this is the game.
"I don't know how to explain. The ball comes to me and I can't do nothing but this."
Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce:
"When I first saw it, I thought it was handball and I've watched it again and it was handball. Simple as that.
"These things happen. It was a very quick game out there and if they miss the odd decision it's not for me to criticise.
"One or two of my players were aggrieved and the captain has got sent off for questioning the decision."
Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry, Del Horno, Joe Cole (Wright-Phillips 72), Lampard, Makelele, Gudjohnsen (Crespo 57), Duff (Essien 53), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Huth.
Booked: Joe Cole.
Goals: Drogba 30, 33.
Man City: James, Sommeil (Riera 45), Danny Mills (Matthew Mills 84), Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Flood, Ireland (Croft 73), Richards, Musampa, Vassell.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Wright-Phillips.
Sent Off: Distin (45).
Booked: Danny Mills, Distin, Musampa.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).