Football's financial frenzy
With the rest of the country fretting over stagflation, interest rates and spluttering economic growth, English football's detachment from the rest of financial reality was confirmed in a frantic 24 hours of spending on Monday.
In total, clubs spent more than £210m in the January transfer window - more than half of that in one day - breaking the 2008 record of £175m.
Two British transfer records inside the space of an afternoon and a club previously committed to prudence and developing young (cheaper) talent spraying their money around like a banker at the height of the credit boom.
Only a Jekyll and Hyde club such as Chelsea could bring us the news that they had made a loss last year of nearly £70m on the same day they were getting ready to write out a cheque for £50m for one striker.
Now Torres is undoubtedly a good player - one of the best strikers in world football. At 26, he has his best years ahead of him and few could blame him for leaving Liverpool after so much instability at Anfield.
For Chelsea, a club which has spent a lot of money paying off managers rather than buying new players in recent times, it is a deal that makes perfect sense as they contemplate not only surrendering their Premier League title but also their cherished place in the Champions League.
But what are we to believe when clubs tell us their days of massive transfer spending are over?
The former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon vowed to make the club break even by 2010. The losses revealed yesterday show that day remains some way off in the distance.
With the nation tightening its financial belt, football carries on spending
Despite that and with Uefa's financial fair play regulations just around the corner, the narrative was supposed to have changed.
The £30m spent last January was the first indicator, we were told, that the new age of austerity was here - an era when clubs would only spend what they could earn.
Failure to balance the books would lead to bans from European competition by 2015 and that's a price none of the top four in England are prepared to pay.
Only Arsenal and Tottenham would definitely comply out of our six biggest - and richest - clubs. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all made heavy losses last year.
In United's case they might be able to argue their loss was caused by big one-off costs incurred through an interest rate swap and foreign exchange rates.
Analysts argue this is the last chance for clubs to spend big. Manchester City's Abu Dhabi owners insist the £200m or so that has been spent in the last two years marks the end of an expensive recruitment drive. Once City arrive among the Champions League elite then they will be able to reduce their losses by cashing in on their new status in Europe. Big sponsorship deals will follow and with a bit of pruning here and there, the current substantial losses will vanish.
But for all of Europe's top clubs it won't be that simple. Any big transfer fees have to be written off over the course of the players' contracts. It is not just a case of writing down £50m in January 2011 and starting with a clean slate in August.
In the case of Torres, £10m a year will have to be accounted for, not to mention his salary, making it even harder to balance the books.
With no prospect of a new ground on the horizon and Chelsea's sponsorship revenues already well developed, where does owner Roman Abramovich suppose he will find the money to close the gap on such losses?
Do he and others like him simply think that when it comes to the crunch Uefa will blink? After all, without the big name players like Torres, the value of the Champions League brand is diminished and with it the amount Uefa can charge for television rights.
Such a view underestimates the determination of Michel Platini, the Uefa president, to force clubs to live within their means. In his view the financial doping of clubs bankrolled by debts and wealthy owners cannot continue.
Platini might have hoped English clubs were getting the message and that a confrontation could be avoided. But if there is one lesson from yesterday it is that for some clubs the here and now is more important than what might happen a couple of years down the line.
And in introducing their new regulations Uefa might have inadvertently fuelled the sort of frenzy of spending it was trying to eliminate.