Chelsea 2 West Bromwich Albion 2: Jose Mourinho had planted a smacker on Steve Clarke's cheek before kick-off, his former No2 welcomed back to these parts with gusto by home support and coaching staff.
But by the end of a contest that so nearly delivered a first home league defeat for the Portuguese, the opposing managers appeared united only in vague agreement that referee Andre Marriner had endured a miserable afternoon.
West Bromwich Albion left outraged at the late penalty which cost them victory, with Chelsea livid it had even come to them chasing the game.
And so to the furore. The visitors, ahead through Shane Long and Stephane Sessegnon after Samuel Eto'o's opener, should have wrapped up a first win here in 35 years well before Ramires bustled into the penalty area in the 94th minute to stagger and fall to the turf as Steven Reid, charging into the box at an angle, held his own line.
There was contact, shoulder to shoulder, but the Brazilian appeared to have been on the descent before feeling the right-back at his side.
Marriner blew instantly, before pointing to the spot.
"When the whistle went I thought he was going to book Ramires for diving," said Reid, who had been making his first Premier League start of the campaign. "Ramires has gone to ground really easily. It felt soft, like I had stood my ground."
Clarke agreed, citing penalty decisions that had gone against his team in matches with Southampton and Stoke already this term to cost Albion five points.
Mourinho, who had watched the recalled Eden Hazard guide in the spot-kick to extend that unbeaten home record to 66 fixtures, felt the award was actually one of the few key decisions Marriner had called correctly.
His principal gripe was Claudio Yacob's dispossession of Branislav Ivanovic in the build-up to Sessegnon's second even if, on subsequent viewing, any foul was hardly clear-cut.
“I am in no doubt that there is a big mistake from the referee for their second goal,” said the Chelsea manager.
As it was, both these teams could draw considerable encouragement from their displays. West Bromwich have such presence and power down the spine of their side while Long, a striker almost shipped out to Hull City on transfer deadline day, looked a player rejuvenated.
Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson and Youssouf Mulumbu were just as impressive.
Chelsea’s refusal to wilt prompted comparisons with Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, whose constant probing would often draw late rewards. “ We had a bad result – because drawing at home to West Brom isn’t a good result – but we rescued a point,” said a defiant Mourinho.