Frank Lampard's departure from Stamford Bridge brought about something fans thought they would never see again: Marcos Alonso in a Chelsea shirt.
Banished from the squad after an undeniably atrocious 45 minutes at West Brom in September, it looked like Alonso was going to be given the Danny Drinkwater treatment at Chelsea, but Thomas Tuchel's arrival has changed things.
Not only is Alonso back in the squad, but he has actually played more minutes than the man who took his spot, Ben Chilwell, who was signed for close to £45m back in the summer.
Tuchel was recently forced to answer questions about Chilwell's future, insisting that the door was not closed for the 24-year-old, and he's right. Chilwell is the best left-back on the books at the club, but that doesn't mean we can ignore Alonso's obvious qualities.
When it comes to playing as a traditional left-back, Alonso is woeful. There's no hiding away from that. The man cannot defend at a high level, which is why he floundered in Lampard's back four. He was brutally exposed by a West Brom side who have only scored 19 goals this season - 16% of which came in 45 minutes against Alonso and co.
However, as a wing-back, Alonso is a different animal.
Having proved his quality in a more advanced position with Fiorentina, Alonso was brought to Chelsea by Antonio Conte, whose 3-4-3 formation led the Blues to the 2016/17 Premier League title and allowed Alonso to bag no fewer than 13 goals across two seasons. For a defender, that's mad.
With the shackles off and the defensive responsibility limited, Alonso turns into prime Roberto Carlos. Nobody in the Premier League can match his numbers as a wing-back, and defenders don't know how to stop him. Alonso is outstanding when used correctly.
Lampard didn't use Alonso correctly, instead preferring a back four, but with Tuchel going with three at the back again, he simply has to call on the Spaniard. Alonso is something else.
Thus far, Tuchel recognises that. He has favoured Alonso, but safe in the knowledge that Chilwell is one of England's top left-backs as well. He has some real competition for the position now, and that can only ever be a good thing.
If Chilwell wants to displace Alonso in the short-term, he needs to figure out how to become a bonafide goal threat. However, even if he doesn't, the position should be his soon enough anyway.
Chilwell has been outstanding since joining Chelsea. Behind Thiago Silva, he was perhaps the best-performing summer signing (even though the attacking recruits haven't put up much of a fight), and he looks like exactly the kind of defender Chelsea have been crying out for.
A concern Tuchel will have is that you cannot put all your faith in a left-back who can't defend. Alonso can do the business (and then some) going forward, but when Chelsea meet an above-average threat on the right wing, he'll be eaten alive. History has proved that.
That's where Chilwell comes in.
The England international will be Tuchel's go-to when it comes to the big games, but he'll need match practice before then. He can't just drop into the squad to face a team like Manchester City and then drop back to the bench when the relatively weaker sides come to town.
Right now, Alonso is playing on merit. He has taken the chance presented to him by Tuchel, and he deserves credit for doing that.
However, Chilwell is there to stay. He was billed as the man finally capable of replacing Ashley Cole, and it's just a matter of time before he gets a consistent shot at living up to that billing.
Source : 90min