Chelsea had opened the league season with back-to-back 6-0 wins and hopes were high they could make it a hat-trick on Saturday against a Stoke side that had conceded seven here back in April.
Tony Pulis’ men put up a far better this time around but were undone by a Florent Malouda strike and Didier Drogba penalty either side of half-time.
Frank Lampard had missed an earlier spot-kick but Stoke hit the crossbar through Glenn Whelan at 1-0 and had the Blues on the back foot before Thomas Sorensen brought down Nicolas Anelka 13 minutes from time.
Chelsea’s starting line-up showed just one change with Paulo Ferreira coming in for the injured Branislav Ivanovic, while Kenwyne Jones returned for Stoke in attack.
Andy Wilkinson was handed a start as Pulis switched to 5-3-2 in a bid to combat the threat of Chelsea’s widemen but the right-back was one of those given the runaround in the opening stages as the hosts started in full throttle.
They gave a warning of what was to come within five minutes when Michael Essien split the Stoke defence with a pass into the path of Ashley Cole to set up a chance the England fullback pulled wide.
Stoke also had their chances early on, Dean Whitehead bringing a sharp save from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech with a snap shot following a neat one-two with Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters lifting a lob on to the top of the Chelsea net.
It would have made it even easier for Chelsea, of course, if Lampard had not missed that penalty on 10 minutes after Ryan Shawcross brought down Drogba.
It was a poor spot kick, side-footed to Sorensen’s left-hand side and the Stoke goalkeeper had no problem falling on the ball.
Sorensen also punched away a savagely-struck free-kick from Drogba before the Blues made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute.
John Terry provided the killer pass, threading a ball through for Malouda to run on to and smash a right-foot shot past Sorensen for his fourth goal of the season.
When this Chelsea side get ahead they are difficult to catch. Carlo Ancelotti does not apply the brakes like Jose Mourinho, who was content to shut up shop from a winning position.
They surge forward looking for more goals, none more so than Cole who met a ball floated into the box acrobatically on the volley only to see his shot rattle the Stoke bar and rebound to safety.
Sorensen was required again in the second-half, most notably to save a point-blank header from Drogba following a floated cross from Anelka.
But to Stoke’s credit they did not capitulate and subsitute Whelan cracked a 25-yard shot against Cech’s crossbar only to see the ball bounce down and away to safety.
But the game was sealed for Chelsea when Sorensen was caught out by Drogba’s lofted ball forward, bringing down Anelka and giving the former the chance to smash home from the spot.
There was just time for Daniel Sturridge, on his 21st birthday, to come on for Anelka and Brazilian midfielder Ramires to make his debut from the bench.
So Chelsea march on. Fourteen league goals scored. None conceded. They will take some stopping.