After four seasons in the wilderness, 2014/15 will see Liverpool return to the Champions League.
A Luis Suarez-inspired Reds outfit came desperately close to ending their almost half-decade long exclusion from the continent’s top table in the grandest of fashions, finishing a close second in the Premier League title race last time around.
But much has changed in the months that followed this exceptional achievement and the 87/100 about them to land a top-four berth after the soon-to-be-restarted music is stopped again next May must be swerved with the same fervour as Fred Flintstone dodges broken bottles in the road.
Here are three reasons that say the sun has already set on their day in the top-four sun:
The man who had a direct hand in 43 of their league goals last term has absconded.
Replacing Uruguayan marksman Suarez is a next-to-impossible task and it’s fair to say that without his contribution to their goals for tally – he scored 31 and assisted 12 – they wouldn’t have finished as high as they did.
Similarly, the formation that served the Anfielders so well wouldn’t have even been utilised, let alone had the same devastating effect had it not included the £75m man.
The Mark Hughes effect appears to have Brendan Rodgers in its debilitating clutches.
Propaganda emanating from Rodgers Manor argues to the contrary, but few would debate that quantity has taken precedence over quality in the Reds’ recruitment drive.
Over £100m has been splurged, but not one player of genuine world-class standard has been sourced, while their only asset of this ilk has vanished.
Hand Hughes a squad on a pub-team budget, he does well (see Blackburn 2007/08) but give him carte blanche with the chequebook (see QPR 2012/13) and disaster invariably ensues.
Rodgers has had a bit of cash to splash on Merseyside, but £15m on Joe Allen, for example, suggests he’s far from the shrewdest spender.
Not only have they not spent well, they failed to address the areas in which they were weakest last time around.
A left-back still hasn’t been parachuted into the red half of Merseyside, nor has a natural holding-midfielder, or a 20-goal striker for that matter, despite the mounds upon mounds of money they’ve invested in playing personnel.
While Liverpool appear to have waned, their top-seven bedfellows have grown in stature.
Everton, Tottenham and Manchester United have all got better yarns to dupe the bouncers on the top-four door with, while Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal have augmented squads already prestigious enough to be granted access.