As Jose Mourinho refused to answer questions on Manchester United’s summer transfer business and Cardiff City and Newcastle United played out a dull nil-nil draw, it was hard not to yearn for the World Cup.
Those heady days when the temperature touched 30 degrees, Harry Kane was the toast of the nation and the country was united feel a long way off.
The grind of the Premier League is back; yes, there were plenty of goals, and yes, it was actually a fairly enjoyable weekend of football, but there were still some depressingly familiar outcomes.
Referees being criticised, managers moaning and English players not being given a chance.
The number one example of that came in the match of the weekend. Chelsea and Arsenal played out an entertaining game at Stamford Bridge, the sort of topsy-turvy clash you remember at the end of the season.
Five goals, plenty of stunning attacking play and abject defending, a glimpse of some new players and all played out in front of a cracking atmosphere.
But there was one player not involved: Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
While Chelsea fans were pleased to see Mateo Kovacic on the bench for the first time, it was at the expense of Loftus-Cheek.
Despite featuring four times for England in Russia, including starting two of their group games, the 22-year-old has once again been overlooked at Chelsea.
Reports suggest he is set for showdown talks at Stamford Bridge today and now he must be selfish.
Loftus-Cheek needs to sit down, look his current employers in the eye and tell them he wants out – it is time to take his career into is own hands and do what is best for him, not let himself be convinced that there is a future at his boyhood club.
Maurizio Sarri looks like being the third Chelsea manager, after Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, to deem that he is not good enough for the Blues, despite an impressive loan spell at Crystal Palace last year and his World Cup exploits.
At 22, Loftus-Cheek has played just 47 Premier League games – 24 of them at Palace, and 23 at Chelsea.
But that stat is not as damning as this one: Loftus-Cheek has only played 58 senior games in total.
Raheem Sterling has played 141 times for Manchester City and 129 for Liverpool, he is just 13 months older than Loftus-Cheek; Dele Alli is three months younger, yet has amassed 148 games for Spurs; Lewis Cook, another England hopeful, is only 21, but has managed 42 games for Bournemouth and played 88 times for Leeds.
As a talent, Loftus-Cheek has always been deemed a player destined for a career at the top level. If he decides to try and fight for a spot at Chelsea this year, it will be a misguided choice, one that looks gallant, but in reality is detrimental to him.
Sarri’s explanation for not naming him in the match day squad was this: “I prefer to have on the bench two wingers, and only one midfielder. So it depends on this. Not any other situation.
“I needed on the bench one goalkeeper [Caballero], one full-back [Zappacosta], one centre-back [Christensen], maybe two midfielders and only one winger, but yesterday I preferred vice versa, two wingers [Hazard, Moses] and one midfielder (Kovacic)].”
The message is clear: Loftus-Cheek is way down the pecking order.
After a successful loan spell, Loftus-Cheek can’t go back to ten more months of cameos off the bench, Carabao Cup starts and not playing every week – and there is every chance that will happen.
While many of Chelsea’s youngsters head out on loan regularly, Loftus-Cheek, for some reason, never had that chance. It is nearly four years since he made is a debut as an 18-year-old in the Champions League and he still hasn’t forced his way into the side.
It has been an endless cycle of broken promises, cup games and disappointment for Loftus-Cheek.
Now he must gamble, push for a loan or a permanent move abroad and make sure his career is not given the chance to stagnate, which it could do at the Bridge. He should not be afraid to throw his toys out of the pram, so to speak. He has been patient enough.
If he has any doubts, he only has to speak to Nathaniel Chalobah, another midfield talent who was seemingly stuck in a never-ending circle at Chelsea, before taking the brave decision to move to Watford permanently.
Injury has stalled his process, but in five games last year he proved that he was more than good enough to be a regular started in the Premier League and earned a call-up to an England squad.
Loftus-Cheek, though, is a 22-year-old with the actual match experience of a teenager. After a year on loan, he must not revert back to a bit-part role at Chelsea.