Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports his team had put in "a good performance if you understand the circumstances" and hailed Steven Gerrard after the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League champions, who included youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek in their starting line-up, got off to an ideal start when captain John Terry headed home a corner after five minutes.
But Liverpool dampened the party atmosphere when Liverpool counterpart Gerrard, once a Chelsea target, headed in a free-kick moments before half-time.
Mourinho said: "It was a good performance if you understand the circumstances. When a team is always playing at the limits to be champions, a team that is champions last weekend, it is normal that you lose a bit of intensity.
"But we worked hard. We had players at a positive level and we were competing for a result. We were very good in the first half. Physically, we went down in the second half.
"It was important for us to show that we are champions and have the dignity of trying to get a result.
"Ruben Loftus-Cheek, I took him off because I could imagine him suffering in the final 30 minutes.
"He came off at the right moment, he understood what the Premier League is and it couldn't be better."
And Mourinho paid tribute to Gerrard, playing at Chelsea for what could be the final time, adding: "To get an ovation at Stamford Bridge is special for Steven Gerrard -- we have lots of respect for the top guys. I will miss him.
"The negative song Chelsea fans sing for him is respect for an old, dear enemy that fought so much against us in every competition.
"After that, the standing applause is amazing. To get it at Anfield, he gets it week in week out, year after year, but away from home it shows a lot."