However, they now stand just 90 minutes away from becoming the first London club to win the Champions League - an achievement that would be a fine riposte to their critics.
Their brilliant comeback against Napoli and stunning victory over Barcelona have led to a reappraisal of their apparent shortcomings, but what have pundits in Germany made of Chelsea's unlikely progression to the final?
We asked our friends at Yahoo! Eurosport Germany to give us their perspective on Roberto Di Matteo's side.
Thomas Janz: Death has been said to live longer: the 'oldies' from Chelsea defied all their critics when reaching the final of the Champions League. Following the suspension of John Terry, the lynchpins of any success the Blues enjoy will come in the form of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. In the only previous encounter between the two clubs in 2005, the two combined for a total of five goals against Bayern. But the heyday of the pair is over. The way they reached the Munich final by beating Barcelona was not particularly appetising, but on the other hand it was very efficient. From a playing point of view, Chelsea are the weaker team. They will defend very deep and seek to punish Bayern in the counter-attack. Chelsea are dangerous on the big occasion and could cause the Bavarians more emotional damage after the last-minute collapse against Manchester United in 1999.
Michael Wollny: When it comes to individual quality I expect Bayern to be better than Chelsea. But Chelsea play a brand of football which Bayern won't like at all. The team of Jupp Heynckes has often had real problems in cracking defensive teams like Chelsea. Moreover they are prone to being exposed by fast counter-attacks, which Chelsea will launch with Drogba or maybe Torres the target. Both teams suffer from the loss of important players to suspension. For Bayern it’s fatal that they have to do without Badstuber in the centre of defence and Alaba at left-back. The other element of the final is the psychological one: Chelsea are expected to give their right arm for the title as it’s the last chance for that old team. On the other hand, Bayern want that historic title in their own stadium. I think Bayern will win 3-1 in the end.
Daniel Rathjen: On Saturday, Bayern will play the greatest game in their history. Motivation and pressure cannot be bigger than in the final of the Champions League in their own stadium in Munich against Chelsea. But the new defence with Tymoshchuk and Contento must be warned. The Blues stand compact at the back, switch play fast and need only a few chances to score. Didier Drogba is still a weapon. Although Bayern will benefit from playing at home, Chelsea are a team on the same high level. They have found themselves during the course of the competition and have become one unit. Luckily for Bayern, Chelsea do not wear yellow jerseys like bogey team Borussia Dortmund.
Fabian Kunze: In Germany, Bayern's fans are infamous for their arrogance and after already losing two titles this season they are convinced of a victory against Chelsea - no, they don't even take losing into account. But I think they underestimate an old Chelsea team, which is experienced enough to eventually win a European Cup. The ability to score out of nothing, just like against Barcelona, is one of the biggest strengths of the Blues: they don't need many chances to score. They also proved that they can cope with pressure put on them by opponents who might have the better football skills. Mentally Chelsea are in a very good position after winning the FA Cup - they have already won a competition this season and everything else is icing on the cake. Chelsea don't have anything to lose, especially not when playing a Champions League final as an away team.