\In a season full of unwanted parallels, it was rather hard to avoid another zinger as Saints capitulated against Chelsea.

Saints were last relegated from the Premier League back in 2005.

Remember all those winnable home matches that slipped by with draws early on?

Remember the managerial change that came just too late?

Remember the fragile confidence and how once belief had evaporated even seemingly good players struggled to make correct decisions under pressure?

And how about that infamous game against Aston Villa?

It was virtually 13 years ago to the day that Saints led 2-0 at St Mary’s, with the team feeing upbeat and looking good for three much needed points in the battle for survival.

But, then, the unthinkable happened.

Three goals in the space of 17 second half minutes turned the game on its head and St Mary’s, was left shell shocked by a quite remarkable sequence of events.

That day it was Carlton Cole who was the sub who came on to bully Saints, change the game and get a goal. It was Harry Redknapp the manager left to blame a total lack of confidence for the astonishing slip.

In truth, Saints never really recovered. There were still matches left, and they contained a few slithers of light, but it was such a crushing day for a team already so browbeaten.

There were probably quite a few fans at St Mary’s thinking of that match as Chelsea produced something similar.

Again a great first half from Saints, a two goal lead.

This time it was Olivier Giroud off the bench to get the goal that set panic into motion for Saints.

But the collapse was more spectacular, this time the three goals to win the match coming in the space of just eight minutes.

It was like a tornado had blown through St Mary’s, lifting up all the elements of belief and confidence that had been built up in the first hour or so, the hope of survival, and scattering them miles away in the blink of an eye.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

After all, a team that has won just five league matches all season is always likely to be totally shot on the confidence front. And we all know when that fog comes down even solid pros struggle to see the wood for the trees and under immense pressure cannot control what feels like an unstoppable momentum.

There is no easy way to turn this around now. It’s so far gone.

Mark Hughes has tried his best, and will continue to do so, and all is not totally lost.

But results elsewhere have left Saints’ top flight status hanging by a thread.

If they cannot beat Leicester and Bournemouth in their next two matches then it is hard to see any way out.

Given what happened at St Mary’s, you can hardly expect that will happen either.

Like that Aston Villa game in 2005, everything seemed to be going Saints’ way.

Chelsea were a mess in the first half. They barely seemed bothered, going through the motions with less intensity than you’d hope for even in a training game.

Saints were cautious with their back five, but good value for the lead given to them on 21 minutes as Dusan Tadic finished low first time from six yards out after Ryan Bertrand’s brilliant burst forward down the left and cut back.

They could have been even better off before half time as well, with Thibaut Courtois saving from James Ward-Prowse while Maya Yoshida headed off target.

Chelsea should also have been reduced to ten men for a horrible challenge on Shane Long by Marcos Alonso but, despite seeming to have the perfect view, referee Mike Dean failed to spot it.

There was a flurry of activity early in the second period as Courtois saved from Long while Chelsea threatened to break sweat as Alex McCarthy stopped from Eden Hazard and Willian.

But Saints looked to have struck a decisive blow on the hour mark as Ward-Prowse’s free kick found Jan Bednarek unmarked at the far post and he showed great composure on his first Premier League start to side foot a volley into the opposite corner for 2-0.

If it seemed ridiculous, but also a happy omission, that Giroud didn’t start the game when he has caused Saints so many problems in the past, that was quickly rectified. And how decisive a sub it proved to be.

Chelsea’s first goal on 70 minutes was out of nothing. That man Alonso was given time to deliver a cross and Giroud stole a march to head into the near post.

Saints’ reaction was the hallmark of a side with no belief.

They just didn’t know what to do, and looked almost resigned to conceding again.

They duly did just five minutes later, this time more chaotic defending eventually presenting Hazard with the kind of opportunity that he will never miss from inside the box.

The capitulation was complete three minutes later as Giroud stunned St Mary’s with a driven finish on the half volley from 12 yards out.

Saints briefly threatened to rally through Josh Sims, but it was not the sort of thing you recover from. They certainly didn’t 13 years ago.