Coutinho, Sturridge and Sterling are key for Reds after Suarez departure
Liverpool's defeat in Miami to Manchester United was the first blow to the confidence of the Merseysiders as they prepare to 'go again.'
Manager Brendan Rodgers will hope that there aren't many more.
Repeating last season's exceptional performances without Luis Suarez will be hard enough as it is without a wobbly start to the season.
The cogent argument that this was only a friendly was a little undermined by Rodgers' pre-match assertion that there was no such thing as a friendly between these two clubs.
Nevertheless, it's hard to take too much from a match ravaged by substitutions and played out by footballers still reaching for full fitness.
That should certainly be the message going forward.
The Suarez-shaped gap at the front of the team hasn't been filled this summer, but you have to ask how could it be filled?
If the Uruguayan's gifts could be easily replicated, Barcelona wouldn't have been compelled to spend such an eye-watering sum of money on such a troublesome character.
Instead of moving for a direct and, in all likelihood, utterly underwhelming substitute, Liverpool have spread the money around.
It's a good, long-term strategy entirely in keeping with the good, long-term strategies the club have employed to lift them back into the Champions League places.
But it might not prevent Liverpool from sliding backwards in the short term.
So much depends upon the triumvirate of Phillipe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
Those three players have the ability to change games, even against the best teams.
They will bear the burden of responsibility while players like Lazar Markovic, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana settle into their new roles.
They are worthy of the challenge.
Sterling first burst into the Liverpool starting line-up in 2012, but he soon returned to the reserves as the sparkle of his early promise was dulled by a growing awareness among the league's defenders of his habits.
Rodgers, an accomplished manager of young talent, was testing him, looking to discover his reaction to a return to the development squad.
The gamble paid off. When Sterling returned, he was a more rounded player.
Indeed, much of Liverpool's late-season success was down to his ability not just to race down the flanks, but to play an intelligent role through the middle.
That development must now continue.
Coutinho was written off by so many people that he seemed an expensive gamble at £8.5 million ($17.9m) when he was brought to the club in 2013.
Small and lightweight, he had been deemed to frail to sustain a career at the top. He proved his doubters wrong instantly, demonstrating a wonderful awareness of the pitch and an ability to avoid the crunching tackles.
His luck ran out against Swansea in September when he was felled by a heavy challenge from Ashley Williams, but he soon returned and was better than ever.
Little wonder that Liverpool are working so hard to renew his contract.
Daniel Sturridge remains the most pivotal player in the team.
The rate of his development since arriving at Liverpool has been extraordinary. Always an excellent technical footballer, the doubt was over his mentality and his ability to play as part of a team.
He has proved himself at Anfield, so much so that he was granted the chance to lead the line for England at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The worry remains that his increased stature will see a return to his more self-centred ways but, for now, there's no reason for that to happen.
Liverpool, who last won the English title in 1990, will have to shrug this defeat off quickly, dismissing it as the irrelevance it was, but there are still lessons to learn.
When the season begins, people will be looking for reasons to write off the Reds.
If their key trio of stars perform, those reasons can be kept to a minimum.
Reds hope to tie down Coutinho
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes Philippe Coutinho will sign a new contract with the Reds in the near future.
Coutinho has made a big impact at Liverpool since he moved to Anfield from Inter Milan in an £8.5 million ($17.9m) transfer 18 months ago.
Rodgers (below) views the 22-year-old Brazilian as an important part of his side's future and he is hoping the playmaker will sign the new deal he has been offered shortly.
"I am not sure when it will be done. I haven't spoken to any of the directors in the last few days so I am not sure where we are on that," the Liverpool manager said after his team's friendly defeat by Manchester United in Miami.
"But, obviously, he is someone we want to tie up for a period of time. I am sure I will hear more about it when I get back on Tuesday."
Coutinho scored five goals in 37 appearances for the Merseyside club last season.
Meanwhile, Rodgers felt Liverpool were unfortunate to lose 3-1 to United in the International Champions Cup final.
Liverpool took the lead through Steven Gerrard's first-half penalty, after Phil Jones fouled Raheem Sterling in the box, but second-half goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard gave United new boss Louis van Gaal his first trophy.
"I thought it was a really good game and both teams have had a very good workout out here," Rodgers said.
"I thought we were well worth the lead and had a couple more chances to increase that and it looked like maybe we should have had another penalty.
"We conceded a disappointing equaliser and then very quickly conceded another one, so the game started to get stretched a bit.
"But, overall, I'm delighted with the whole tournament and what it has done for us.
"We have worked very hard and we will leave here with plenty of positives and look forward to the new season.
"The condition of the players that we have at the moment is very good. We've obviously got a few missing, but certainly by Southampton we will be ready and we are looking forward to it."
The Liverpool boss was impressed by the performance of England forward Sterling, who he felt was always a serious threat during the game in Miami.
Rodgers added: "I thought he was outstanding and was a real threat. Raheem is tactically aware for such a young player and is so exciting to watch. When he runs at defenders, he creates many opportunities.
"At 19 years of age, he is a real talent and is getting better all the time." - PA Sport.