Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers rates last season’s 3-0 loss at Old Trafford as the best defeat of his career.
The Reds created far more chances against Manchester United in December but the now-departed Raheem Sterling, in particular, found goalkeeper David de Gea, who is set for his first start of the season after signing a new contract after a failed transfer to Real Madrid, in top form.
However, the reverse proved to be a catalyst as the Reds went on a 13-match unbeaten run in the league which was only ended by United at Anfield in March.
It replicated a pattern which is developing with Rodgers’ teams which has seen them play their best football at the turn of the year.
“It was probably the best defeat I’ve ever had,” said the Reds boss.
“You never want to lose the game but I saw enough in that day to know we had actually got our identity back.
“We should have scored goals but ultimately lost the game because we didn’t defend well enough.
“From that moment we then kicked on and had a good spell.”
Defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday evening (5.30pm) would increase the pressure on Rodgers but he remains confident in his ability to get the best out of a squad which has seen £80million of new recruits added in the summer.
“We still have quality and we still have players we can bring in with a high-level of technique,” he added.
“I think this team will show its worth over the course of the season not just in the first four or five games.
“We are still only early in September. Even the season we nearly won the league (2013-14) we didn’t play that brand of football until December time.
“When you can go into these types of games, play well and get a good result it can really help your confidence level and coming off the back of our last result that is something we want to do. We have the talent and focus.”
With playmaker Philippe Coutinho suspended Rodgers has to make a change from the side which lost 3-0 at home to West Ham last time out.
Striker Danny Ings, who arrived in the summer from Burnley, made a good impression coming on as a substitute in that game and could be set for his first start.
“Danny scored there (Old Trafford) last season and he has been a real bright spark since he came in,” said Rodgers. “I would have no qualms about picking him in the team.”