Now it could be that the former England captain actually returns in the New Year himself; and expect all the platitudes of 'It's like having a new signing' to be rolled out by manager and fans.
Yet bringing in another centre-back may not be a bad idea. Ivanovic is utilised mostly as a right-back, and although Azpilicueta's signing could lead to seeing the Serbian in the centre a little more regularly, whether it is a permanent solution remains to be seen.
What if Terry suffers a setback, or goes down injured again?
It is worth Chelsea looking at their options certainly, but they may want to be clever about who they bring in. Instead of going for a big name like Sergio Ramos or Mats Hummels, who neither of their clubs want to relinquish, a more suitable target may be one who comes at a cheaper price and has a lot to prove; similar to the acquisition of Gary Cahill last January.
So whether it be January, or next summer, here are five centre-backs Chelsea should take a look at...
Toby Alderweireld (Ajax)
Jan Vertonghen's defensive partner from last year at Ajax, Alderweireld is another Belgian international who would fit straight in at Chelsea with his compatriots. The 23-year-old would likely cost around £10 million, a bargain for his talent, and there would be no issue of a big name ego. He would understand he'd have to fight for his place, and is just the sort of young talented and hungry player the club have been going after. Spurs are also interested, so Chelsea may have to move quickly.
Dede (Vasco da Gama)
Dede is billed as South America's top centre-back, winning acclaim for his performances in Brazil. Having bought Oscar, and reportedly agreed a deal for Wallace, from the Brazilian league, Chelsea's scouts will no doubt be fully aware of Dede. The possibility of lining him up alongside compatriot David Luiz would certainly be intriguing. At just 24, the time could be right for him to make his big move to Europe.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke)
Papadopoulos broke records when he became the youngest ever player to make his debut for Olympiakos at just 15-years-old. Now 20, he is a full international plying his trade in the Bundesliga. He is currently picking up valuable Champions League experience, and has a bright future ahead of him. He impressed at Euro 2012, marshalling a predictably solid Greek backline, and could be one of if not the very best talents of his generation.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke)
There aren't many centre-backs in the Premier League who Chelsea could sign and would like to, but Shawcross should fit both bills. Similar to Cahill, he is an excellent defender in a poor team, and where the former Bolton man has made the step up, Shawcross could do the same. Currently he is yet to sign a new contract with the club, and Chelsea could throw a spanner in the works by making a move for him in January, making him a valuable back-up for their first choice stars, while nabbing a star of the future at the same time.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier)
Yanga-Mbiwa would perhaps be the most useful player Chelsea could sign. The Montpellier captain can play at centre-back, and in both full-back positions, and his versatility has seen him beccme among the most coveted defenders in Europe. He could be available for just £7 million, but with AC Milan and Arsenal both heavily linked with signing him, Chelsea may have to move in January if they are to secure the 23-year-old.
Which of the above would be best for Chelsea?