It needed something special to break the resistance of the boys, who stood firm and tall for much of the game and were not without attacking intent themselves.
Both clubs seemed to be playing their strongest hand, with Lee Young-Pyo, Ledley King, Edgar Davids and Mido restored to the starting line-up for us. For Liverpool, goalkeeper Jose Reina was back in after an FA Cup break and Fernando Morientes returned up front in place of Djibril Cisse. Seasoned observers in the press box described it as Liverpool's first choice X1.
The boys kicked off in the direction of the Kop and both sides opened the game a little gingerly with neither keeper in danger of an early meeting with the ball.
Paul Robinson certainly had his first meaningful touch as the clock ticked towards eight minutes when, following a Lee foul on Steven Gerrard, the England man swung over his free-kick from the right which cleared everyone except the lurking Peter Crouch at the far post. The striker stooped and headed, Robbo descended and reacted.
Michael Dawson then did well to deny Morientes a shooting chance moments before going close with a header at the other end. Robinson again had to be sharp on 17 minutes when Liverpool countered at pace through Gerrard down the right and, with Crouch and Morientes looming, Robbo was quickly off his line to smother.
The game went a little tepid again and was lacking sparkle as we approached the half hour mark before a Steve Finnan cross was met with considerable purpose by Morientes and, with Robinson desperately trying to reach his top left hand corner, the ball struck the bar. Seven minutes later Dawson did very well to clear a dipping Gerrard free-kick from the danger area following a Stalteri trip on Harry Kewell.
We had the best chance to go ahead in the first minute of the second period when Jermaine Jenas brilliantly gave John Arne Riise the slip before delivering a low cross along the line of the six yard box. It looked perfect for Robbie Keane in front of goal but the striker, under a little pressure, sidefooted the ball wide.
The team appeared to be growing in stature on the Anfield stage and Jenas was taking confidence from his beating of Riise and began to take the Norwegian on for pace. From a Carrick corner and clearance, Teemu Tainio attempted a dipping drive from the edge of the box that flew not too far wide.
Liverpool responded and, from a Gerrard corner, Crouch stretched Robinson on 55 minutes. Three minutes later the home side were ahead. A raking cross from the influential Finnan cleared our back line and its flight was met perfectly by Kewell on the volley and his effort flew past his former teammate Robinson and rattled the net.
Parity was nearly restored straight away when Mido gave Reina his first real work of the afternoon, chesting down and shooting on the turn and the Spaniard did well to turn the ball away.
Jermain Defoe took to the field on 67 minutes with Tainio replaced.
A no point were the boys overrun in this encounter, but surrendering the initiative goal-wise was always likely to prove costly given Liverpool had not conceded a goal in their previous nine home games.
Aaron Lennon came on for a struggling Edgar Davids 12 minutes from time, with Jenas moving into a central position - having probably been our most effective player in the second half.
More numbers were pressed into attack as the minutes ticked away and Liverpool swapped striker Morientes for defender Stephen Warnock in a sign that they were perhaps content to hold what they had.
Three minutes from time an already tough job was made more difficult when Stalteri was dismissed for a foul on Kewell when the winger was set to go through on goal. Referee Mr Gallagher reached for red even though the offence was some way out.
It was a harsh ending and it would have been even harsher if Robinson hadn't dived to his left to deny Sissoko what looked a likely second although Keane had one final chance in the final seconds, a tricky volley from Carrick's high ball that he hit into the ground and wide.
A stunning second half volley from Harry Kewell proved to be the difference and consigned us to a single goal defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.