The action on the touchline was nearly as entertaining as that on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
Pep Guardiola having a running war with fourth official Bobby Madley, screaming in the faces of his own bench and punching the air in delight when N’Golo Kante was booked.
It was a night of high stakes, with Guardiola versus Conte as the sideshow to an incredibly intense, engaging and brilliant battle for supremacy between the champions-elect and visitors Manchester City .
Perhaps then, it was no wonder tempers boiled over — especially with both benches joining in the turf war.
Conte and Guardiola speak after Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City
Chelsea fitness coach Paolo Bertelli gave the City bench stick during the game, in a precursor to a huge row in the tunnel afterwards.
Bertelli is loud and not afraid of confrontation, having had words with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United assistant Rui Faria this season.
From the first minute, Guardiola was animated, slapping his thighs in disgust and frustration as he felt decision after decision went against City.
He regularly turned to his coaching staff and said to them in Spanish: “I told you, I told you.”
Guardiola had heated exchanges with Madley, berating him over decisions.
Conte joined in and, at one point the Italian’s assistant Angelo Alessio came across to defuse what looked as if it would become a slanging match with his opposite number.
Guardiola kept racing back from the edge of his technical area to the City bench, then literally screamed in the face of his assistant Mikel Arteta, who sat unmoved.
Referee Mike Dean was struggling to take charge and show authority and Guardiola seemed frustrated that Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy and Fabian Delph were all cautioned while Kante was not shown his yellow until stoppage time.
When asked afterwards whether his bickering with Madley was out of frustration, Guardiola replied: “No, I was in good relation with the fourth official. He was funny. It was good.”
The 46-year-old Spaniard has found his first season in the Premier League overshadowed by the success of fellow debutant Conte.
The Italian has led his team to the top of the league, and they proved this week they up for the fight.
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta admitted Tottenham breathing down their necks has turned up the heat – but is confident they can handle it.
Saturday’s home defeat by Crystal Palace was the West Londoners’ first upset in months on the march to the title.
Their response was to beat City, who were still potential champions at kickoff, ahead of a Saturday tea-time game at Bournemouth.
Azpilicueta said: “We feel the pressure because we know it’s a month and a half to finish the season but we are in the best position to be.
“I’m sure our rivals were waiting for us to drop that mental strength and drop again points. So we showed our character, the fans, the team, the staff, we worked really hard when maybe it wasn’t our best game.
“All the teams would like to be in our position so we know they will wait for us to lose but we have to be strong enough to keep the lead and to finish the season in this position.
“It was a massive game after the defeat on Saturday. We came back in a strong way and we know we have a game that is just as important in less than 72 hours. We have to recover and prepare well.”
The 27-year-old Spain international hailed boss Conte, saying: “To come to England and in the first year to be in first place and to hopefully finish the season with trophies… he’s doing an amazing job.”