Ashley Cole spared the blushes of Chelsea's 130 million-pound ($211 million) attack as the European champions spluttered to a 1-0 victory against Stoke to go three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
But the quartet was nowhere near being the 'Barcelona in blue shirts' the club's billionaire owner craves until the 85th minute, when Cole finished a brilliant move to snatch a barely-deserved win.
It could easily have been a fourth straight match without a victory for Chelsea as Torres flopped once again and Jonathan Walters hit the crossbar for Stoke, who arguably had the better of the chances.
That would have cranked up the pressure on Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo, who shrugged off Thursday's visit of Abramovich to the club's training ground the morning after the club's opening Champions League game against Juventus.
But despite Chelsea enjoying more of the ball, Torres, Hazard, Oscar and Mata played like the strangers they were for most of the afternoon.
Torres did nod a Mata corner over the top but, otherwise, the Champions League winners were guilty of taking too many touches, making one pass too many and allowing Stoke to smother.
The visitors should have made them pay in the 20th minute when an unmarked Walters thumped a header from Glenn Whelan's free-kick against the crossbar.
Torres is rarely upstaged when it comes to embarrassing moments and he duly added another to his collection with an air-shot after Mata's wonderful dink put him one-on-one with Asmir Begovic.
The home side was not exactly booed off at the break but a flat atmosphere certainly greeted them after the restart.
That changed when Chelsea was denied the latest in a catalog of recent penalty claims when Oscar went down under Ryan Shawcross' challenge.
It may not have been a spot kick but did not deserve the acting award that followed -- a booking.
That sparked Chelsea and Oscar to life and the Brazilian tested Begovic with a low shot before Mata blazed wide following a defensive mix-up.
The Potters responded by sending on Michael Owen for Adam but Chelsea almost cut them open when Mata was thwarted by a brilliant Shawcross tackle.
Oscar was becoming more and more of a threat and his deflected grass-cutter was well saved by Begovic before he sent another mid-range shot narrowly wide.
Etherington dragged wide after John Obi Mikel, of all people, should have done better than squander what was a fine pass by Torres.
Mikel departed for Lampard for the final nine minutes and, four minutes later, Chelsea finally had the breakthrough.
It was the first piece of Barcelona-esque football of the entire afternoon as some lovely build-up ended when Mata's delightful back-heel found Cole, who lifted the ball beyond Begovic.
A brilliant last-ditch Etherington tackle prevented Moses having a chance to make it 2-0 on the break.
Terry came on for Mata and a late Luiz tackle on Walters ensured the game ended with some bad blood between the sides, with Etherington also involved in a minor altercation with Ivanovic before the final whistle.