Leicester couldn't win the Premier League again, could they?
There must have been a few times, during the intervening years, when Jamie Vardy has wondered if he made a mistake in turning down a move to Arsenal, as he did back in the summer of 2016. If there were, though, we can safely assume he does not consider it anymore, especially after he played a key role in Leicester's 2-0 win over the Gunners.
For the second time in four days, Arsenal manager Unai Emery stood by the side of a football pitch, soaking wet, and watched his team put in a dispiriting performance in driving rain. On Wednesday against Vitoria Guimaraes, there was the familiar concession of a lead that led to a disappointing draw. Three days later, they were simply being beaten by a superior team.
Because Leicester were not just better at the King Power Stadium; they were miles better. Almost embarrassingly better. Indeed, so much better were they in what amounted to an eighth win in 10 Premier League games, which means they spend Saturday night in second place, that you start to think about it ...
They couldn't do it again, could they?
The 2015-16 season still feels slightly unreal, so unlikely was Leicester's title win under Claudio Ranieri. That is mainly because it was not the result of careful planning and logical thinking, more an implausible confluence of events involving individual brilliance, traditional forces having off-seasons and no little luck, all of which resulted in a miracle.
This feels different. This feels like a manager with a broader vision, a longer-term plan, about which, of course, he will not be shy of telling you. But while it is always easy to mock Brendan Rodgers' sense of self-regard, that does not mean he is necessarily wrong, even if he is playing down the chances of a title challenge at this stage.
"We're not really thinking about that," Rodgers said, when asked if Leicester could be thought of as title challengers. "We're thinking about developing the team and making them better. That's been the focus since I first came in.
"Our job over the years I'm here is to hopefully be that [a top-four team] and if we can bring European football here that would be great. It's a huge credit to the players, because they've adapted to how I've asked them to work."
Objectively, Leicester are within a shout of challenging for the title. Liverpool or Manchester City -- or both -- will drop points when the sides meet at Anfield on Sunday, while Rodgers' men also have a friendly set of fixtures coming up.
After the international break, Leicester face Brighton, Everton, Watford, Aston Villa and Norwich. By the time they play City and Liverpool either side of Christmas, they could easily have another 15 points in the bank, which would put them in touch with the best teams in the country, going into the New Year.
"I suppose we've thrown a hand grenade right into the middle of them all [the established top-four teams]," Rodgers said. "Our job is to improve and be better, bring consistency to our game. It's 12 games in, we're working very well but we've just got to keep going until it's about 10 games to go and we can assess where we are then."
The transformation of a team, which was trudging toward irrelevance last season under Claude Puel, has been remarkable. Rodgers has basically the same set of players as when he took charge at the end of February; indeed, 10 of the 11 starters against Arsenal -- Ayoze Perez was the exception -- were in the squad for his first game in charge, against Watford.
Rodgers has improved every aspect of this Leicester team, tightening the defence despite losing £80 million worth of Harry Maguire in the summer, making the midfield more efficient with a sterling trio of Wilfred Ndidi, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison, and refocusing Vardy's game to help make him the league's top scorer, which is remarkable given the former England striker looked to be on the way out under Puel.
This team is full of players about whom you instinctively think, "Arsenal should probably have signed him": Beyond the near miss with Vardy, Tielemans, Maddison, Ricardo Pereira and Jonny Evans also fit the bill. Heck, maybe the manager himself falls into that category. Would they be as good at the Emirates, though?
While Arsenal are floundering for ideas, grasping to find something that works, Leicester have a consistent approach and are excelling with its implementation. On the most basic level, Rodgers has made sure his team is greater than the sum of their parts, while the opposite is true of Emery's outfit.
As if to emphasise the undeniable and obvious quality gap, Rodgers spoke about Arsenal after the game as if they were plucky upstarts that had no greater ambition than to nick a result, stopping just shot of calling them brave.
"I think the only other time they have played that system [five at the back with two defensive midfielders] is in the Europa League final," he said. "They're a big, big threat on counter-attacks, so we had to manage that today."
Rodgers' rhetoric is no false sense of superiority. Leicester are nine points clear of Arsenal and look every inch of being worth it. Ranieri's 2015-16 champions will always be the club's greatest and most glorious, but in objective terms this team might be better.
Does that mean they will also win the title? As implausible as it might seem, maybe. Just maybe.