As reality checks go, the humiliation Liverpool handed out to Manchester United at a joyous and almost disbelieving Anfield was as brutal as it gets.
The statistics speak for themselves.
Liverpool’s 7-0 win was a monument to the return of all the qualities that have driven success under manager Jurgen Klopp. Those same statistics piled up like rubble at the feet of a Manchester United side that simply crumbled.
The biggest beating in the history of this famous fixture; the 7-0 scoreline equalling the heaviest defeat inflicted on United; Liverpool scoring six goals in a truly remarkable 45 minutes in front of The Kop.
Mane made his exit to Bayern Munich in the summer while Firmino announced on Friday that he would be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season.
Indeed, it was a sign of Liverpool’s perfect scriptwriting on Sunday that the Brazilian emerged as a substitute to a rapturous reception and provided the perfect finale to this landmark game with the goal that made in 7-0 in front of The Kop in the closing moments.
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Alongside those goals from Liverpool’s old guard came two each from Gakpo and Nunez that hinted at the potency and promise within the next incarnation of Klopp’s forward line.
Gakpo was a target for United manager Erik ten Hag before Liverpool stepped in to snatch him away from PSV Eindhoven in January – and here you could see what the attraction was.
He provided a smooth finish from Andrew Robertson’s perfect pass to open up what had been, as remarkable as it sounds, a tight game for 43 minutes.
The BBC reported that Gakpo scored Liverpool’s third with a delicate flourish after brilliant work by Salah, before he was joined on the scoresheet by Nunez, who is now getting the goals his industry has deserved.
Nunez diverted Harvey Elliott’s driven cross past United keeper David de Gea to put Liverpool 2-0 up then scored with another superb header from Jordan Henderson’s ball in for the fifth.
Gakpo and Nunez are still early works in progress but they possess goals, variety and flexibility. Throw in the enduring, world-class Salah and this is another threatening Liverpool strike force in the making.
In the wider context, Klopp’s side are now an ominous presence to the likes of Tottenham and Newcastle United in the fight for a top-four place.
Liverpool are only three points behind Spurs, who lost at Wolves on Saturday, while Newcastle look to be fading after a fine first few months of the season.
Klopp flagged up just how big this week was in shaping those ambitions and it has brought a deserved home win against Wolves before United were completely overwhelmed.
He said: “It was the push we wanted. It puts us in the right direction. Everyone has to know we are still around.
“It wasn’t the case for a while but this was a proper show of what we can be and what we have to be from now on.”
It was after a 4-0 loss at Liverpool in April that then Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick announced: “They are six years ahead of us.”
United’s steps to recovery this season suggested the gap had been closed to an extent – but when Liverpool get it right, as they did here, it still resembles a chasm.