Alvaro Morata scored a classy hat-trick, starting after just 83 seconds, to underline there is life after Diego Costa as Chelsea mantained their 100 per cent away record.
Morata was ruthless in exploiting the gaps in Stoke's makeshift defence as Chelsea showed they won't give up their title without a serious fight despite the claims of both Manchester clubs.
The Spaniard took his season's tally to six in the week that his strike predecessor Costa was sold to Atletico Mardid and Pedro also netted in an afternoon of personal misery for Stoke skipper Darren Fletcher.
In mitigation, Stoke boss Mark Hughes had only one senior centre-half available with Kevin Wimmer and Ryan Shawcross injured and loanee Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club. He must have looked at a Chelsea bench containing Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas with envy.
The last thing Stoke needed with two full-backs in a three-man central defence and two wingers playing wing-back was to concede early. Yet in the second minute, Cesar Azpilicueta's long forward pass found Morata in acres of space between Bruno Martins Indi and Glen Johnson. The Spaniard had little difficulty in taking an expert touch to control and a second to steer a low finish past Jack Butland.
Only four of Stoke's starters were in the side that faced Chelsea in March so they looked predictably disjointed even though there was no shortage of effort.
Maxim Choupo-Moting, already a cult hero in The Potteries, showed some neat touches but Hughes' irritable mood – he was told to calm down by the fourth official at one stage – wasn't helped when Chelsea added a second goal on 30 minutes.