THE first sign that, just maybe, something special could be brewing at Turf Moor this season came in the first 45 minutes of the season.

But for Sean Dyche it was even earlier than that. He'd sensed a step forward in pre-season, then in the away dressing room at Stamford Bridge in the August sunshine he could smell it too.

His senses would prove to be correct. By half-time the Clarets were 3-0 up at the defending champions. They've not looked back since. Tonight the two sides meet in the reverse fixture separated by just two position, with Burnley on the brink of European football for the first time in 51 years.

Looking back to that incredible opening day, Dyche said: “I could smell it in the dressing room. I thought this feels different, this is a different thing. The players, there was a different feeling, there was a more assured feeling, we’re ready, a focus, a clear-mindedness.

“It does not guarantee results, but I felt it was a good feeling going into this game.

“As we won that game, that rubber-stamped that feeling and everyone carried that on.

“We felt ‘OK, we’re ready to play”. Whereas in previous seasons it had been a nervy feeling of ‘Oh, it’s Chelsea away’ and that can play tricks with players.”

A double for Sam Vokes either side of a stunning Stephen Ward volley had Burnley in dreamland at the break.

Although Gary Cahill had been sent-off for the defending champions that didn't account for the Clarets stunning opening salvo to 2017/18, with Burnley holding on for a 3-2 win.

Asked about that team talk at Stamford Bridge with his side winning 3-0, Dyche said: "It was definitely one I hadn’t planned on. We had a little meeting with the staff and they said ‘what do you think?’

"I said ‘I don’t know’. What do you want me to tell them? We’re 3-0 up at Chelsea. We just waffled on and kept our fingers crossed and we managed to get it over the line.

"It wasn’t just a great result against a top side, there was a story about one away win the previous season, that was gone immediately.

"It changes the immediate feeling of the season."

Jack Cork was making his second Burnley debut after his permanent move from Swansea in the summer, back at the home of his first club.

Like Dyche, he couldn't believe what he was witnessing at the break.

"It was strange coming in at half-time. I think coming away from that with a win we felt like it could turn out to be a good season," he said.

"You never know, look at West Brom who won their first two games of the season and then didn’t win one for two or three months, but it felt like we had the quality to have a good season after that."