Jose Mourinho - humbler, older and wiser? Not a chance. "It's like they are waiting for me and just waiting for my next input for the evolution," is how Chelsea's new manager described his return to the club, six years after he was sacked.
Now he is back at Stamford Bridge and, if you believe Mourinho's interpretation, those intervening years were merely the realisation of what he left in place, at least in terms of trophies. It is often claimed, justifiably, that for most of those years Chelsea were still Mourinho's team; most effective when they played in his physical, counter-attacking 4-3-3 and with the manager still maintaining contact with a key core of players.
But Roman Abramovich wanted to move away from that template, charging each of Mourinho's successors with creating a more attractive - but still winning - style. In other words, to bury the Special One's legacy in a blizzard of tiki-taka football.
And, above all, to find an "identity" for the vanity project that has cost the Russian billionaire so many hundreds of millions of pounds to maintain. Now it has all come back to Mourinho. Abramovich is again demanding identity but also - a new word - stability. Mourinho's argument? Chelsea have had to wait for the prodigal's return to be able to find it: no one else was big enough.
"What is success?" Mourinho mused. "I'm not worried with that definition. No, I'm worried about high-quality work in every area I can influence. I think that's the basis of success. "I heard one manager here, I think it was [Luiz Felipe] Scolari, that when he comes to Chelsea he was saying: 'Chelsea, I never saw a club like Chelsea, I never saw a club with such an organisation in the analysis department, I never saw such a group of players with such a working ethic'.
"And that was two or three years after me and I was saying to myself and to my assistants: 'He never mentioned my name.' But it is a big compliment because it's my working ethic, it's my group of players. It's my department of analysis and preparation of matches. It is my people, that's my work. That's success."
There is a caveat. Mourinho, like Abramovich, is a trophy hunter. He, more than any other manager, measures success by titles, constantly sneering at Arsene Wenger for failing to accumulate silverware at Arsenal, holding up five fingers in the direction of Abramovich after winning the League Cup in February 2007 to remind him how many trophies he had won for Chelsea. Maybe Abramovich also wants evolution but does he have the nerve to see it through?
It is true that part of Carlo Ancelotti's attraction to Chelsea was his ability to develop young players but when the five that he promoted - including Gael Kakuta and Josh McEachran - did not establish themselves, he paid the price. Similarly, Andre Villas?Boas was charged with changing style and personnel only not to be given the tools to do the latter. It means that Chelsea - and Mourinho - are at a fascinating crossroads. This is a new "project" for him as well and, to use the buzzword employed by Manchester City when choosing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager, a more "holistic" approach.
Even more fascinating is that City did not think Mourinho could do it. "I think it's funny. I think it's very motivational," Mourinho said. The likelihood is that he will not simply be able to plunder the transfer market, even if some sources maintain he has pounds 150?million to spend. "It demands more from you. I think you have to think more about every decision, every move.
"You need to work more closely with the board, with the financial area. You have to have a different perspective at the players on loan, the players from the youth system. It's more global - instead of focusing yourself on just on your team and your ambitions, it's an overall view. It's a different profile of job and I'm happy with that." Time will tell, although as he spoke the mind flicked back to another League Cup fixture, away to Wycombe Wanderers in January 2007, when Mourinho railed against the paucity of good young players coming through at Chelsea. Now, he clearly feels that has been addressed, although the club has spent heavily in recruiting Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De?Bruyne and Tomas Kalas, the three young players he mentioned.
"In the area of the scouting of players and especially young players, the club had an evolution," Mourinho said. "The club is better now than when I came here. It's better because it needs to be better. You have to scout more; you have to follow more. You cannot do it without a good structure." He also praised the club's technical director Michael Emenalo but, given Mourinho's history, his relationship with the club's former scout - whom many people, including Ancelotti, believe has been overpromoted - will be scrutinised for signs of tension.
Mourinho does not like to be directed and does like to apportion blame. He argued strongly that he did not demand control and finally confirmed that he was not opposed to Andrei Shevchenko's 30.8 million pounds signing in 2006, despite subsequent reports that Abramovich had imposed the striker on Mourinho. Instead Shevchenko was on the manager's list of targets, albeit behind Samuel Eto'o, whom Barcelona would not sell to Chelsea.
"And after that we looked at other options and it became a Shevchenko option," Mourinho said. Eventually the signing did become a point of conflict and, if Mourinho stays, observers will watch for similar signs surrounding Fernando Torres. For now, though, Mourinho is adamant that he will radiate calm. And stability.
Marina Granovskaia's appointment to the Chelsea board is another positive step for Mourinho. She has been Abramovich's de facto head of staff for several years and has been more heavily involved with the running of Chelsea since 2010, as director Eugene Tenenbaum - regarded as the owner's right-hand man - has spent more time on other businesses.
Crucially, Granovskaia was also a key figure in championing Mourinho's return to Chelsea and even travelled to Madrid on several occasions in recent months to try to ensure that a deal was possible while other candidates were being promoted at the club. Her appointment to the board adds to her profile but does not change her importance at the club, especially to Mourinho and, of course, Abramovich.