Mourinho made a triumphant return to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night to dump his former club out of Europe’s elite competition and remind Roman Abramovich of the mistake he made by kicking him out of west London.
Inter, leading 2-1 from the opening leg of this last-16 tie in the San Siro, secured their place in the quarter-finals when Samuel Eto’o scored the winner at the Bridge in the 78th minute.
Chelsea’s campaign ended in more misery when Didier Drogba was sent off in the 87th minute for a crude moment of petulance, appearing to stamp on Thiago Motta.
Mourinho, who never lost a home league game during his time as manager at Chelsea, had begun the evening with a low profile entry from the tunnel and into his dugout seat.
Chelsea fans responded with warm applause but Mourinho refrained from hogging the limelight. He knew he and his team had a job to do.
Mourinho had cleverly picked an attacking side with Eto’o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev up front, and his plan worked superbly.
They set about the task of preserving their one-goal advantage from the opening leg with a determination and energy rarely associated with Italian teams.
They closed Chelsea down with alarming efficiency for much of the half and squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to pile on the agony for the English side.
But when the home side did get into gear, there was enough encouragement to suggest the deficit could easily be wiped out.
In the 11th minute, Michael Ballack collected a pass from Frank Lampard and sent a 20-yard low drive just wide of the post. But it was an isolated moment.
The low intensity of the game was briefly interrupted in the 15th minute when Florent Malouda was kicked in the face by Lucio.
Drogba quickly squared-up to the Inter defender before referee Wolfgang Stark, who had a poor game, restored calm.
But the Serie A side were doing everything to protect their lead and Maicon was the hero in the 25th minute when he blocked a shot from Drogba.
Milan responded with the miss of the half from Eto’o. Maicon’s cross eluded Chelsea captain John Terry and fell straight to the Inter striker at the far post.
But instead of planting his header into the net, Eto’o headed the ball down and over the cross bar.
It was a real let-off for the home side who then had two penalty claims rejected within minutes.
First Motta escaped when he rugby-tackled Branislav Ivanovic and moments later Walter Samuel was guilty of an atrocious challenge on Drogba as the Ivorian attempted to lose his marker from a corner.
Amazingly, Stark missed both offences and Motta then cleared off the line after Nicolas Anelka had turned a pass from Drogba towards the empty goal.
It had been a frustrating half for the English side and more of the same was dished-up in the second period.
Malouda briefly threatened to take the game to the Italians and his trickery earned Motta a booking in the 47th minute. It was a yellow card that will keep him out of the quarter-final.
The France winger, the architect of West Ham’s downfall in the Premier League on Saturday, then forced Julio Cesar into a fine save at his near post.
Lucio was also booked by Stark and he too will miss the first-leg of Inter’s quarter-final tie.
But as the second-half wore on, Milan began to exploit Chelsea’s nervousness.
Yury Zhirkov produced a sensational block tackle to prevent Goran Pandev from putting Milan in front on the night and in the 65th minute, Diego Milito put his shot wide with just Ross Turnbull to beat.
Moments later, Motta headed over the bar from close range as Mourinho’s side edged closer to the last eight.
The goal they had threatened throughout the second half finally arrived in the 79th minute when Eto’o collected a superb pass from Wesley Sneijder and ran on to fire past Turnbull.
Mourinho allowed himself a short run out of his dugout but then remembered his pledge not to celebrate and walked back to his seat.
Chelsea, who had never looked like scoring in the second half, now had to get two – a task that was clearly beyond them.
It got worse for Chelsea in the 87th minute when Drogba was given a straight red card for a lunge on Motta, seemingly raking his studs down the midfielder’s calf after the ball had gone.
Inter wasted another chance in the closing stages when Eto’o’s shot was superbly saved by Turnbull.
But it was all academic in terms of the result and with a minute of added time to go, Mourinho ended the game with a low profile exit.
The former Chelsea boss watched the closing seconds from the sanctuary of the tunnel and disappeared at the final whistle to leave the glory and celebrations to his victorious team.