AT first glance, little had changed. The Kop sang Kenny Dalglish’s praises, Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen watched from the sidelines and Luis Suarez stole the show.
But by full-time the Anfield faithful were left in no doubt the Brendan Rodgers era is now up and running.
The Northern Irishman celebrated his home debut by guiding Liverpool to comfortable Europa League progress at the expense of Belarus outfit FC Gomel last night.
Clarke and Keen were watching from the directors’ box scouting for new employees West Bromwich Albion ahead of their Premier League opener against Liverpool on Saturday week.
And they saw Fabio Borini, Rodgers’ first signing, light up his Anfield bow with a fine volley before goals from Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson sealed a place in tomorrow’s final qualifying round draw.
With Swansea City midfielder Joe Allen in the stands – Liverpool having met the £15million escape clause in the Welshman’s contract – the Rodgers rebuilding programme is now beginning to gather pace.
However, not all of the rumoured transfer dealings have met with widespread approval.
Last night was the first time the home supporters could send out a serious message to Rodgers since his arrival, and the sounds of “Daniel Agger’s going nowhere” and a raucous salute for Andy Carroll cannot have been missed by the Northern Irishman.
Agger is being courted heavily by Premier League champions Manchester City while Rodgers has made no secret that Carroll is unlikely to be a regular starter under his playing philosophy.
The actions of the Kop echoed the backing Xabi Alonso received in a friendly against Lazio in 2008 after it emerged Rafael Benitez was considering jettisoning the Spaniard.
There were welcome cheers, too, for Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan had spent most of the previous fortnight being jeered around the country while on Olympic duty, but was far more appreciated by the Anfield crowd having penned a new long-term contract earlier in the week.
But the biggest ovation of the night was reserved for Jamie Carragher, presented with a commemorative Liver Bird by Roy Evans – the man who gave the veteran his debut back in 1997 – to mark his 700th appearance in last week’s first leg.
Rodgers himself slipped into the dugout almost unnoticed, soliciting only a smattering of applause. Indeed, the strains of “Dalglish, Dalglish” could be heard on more than one occasion from the crowd in recognition of the departed Scot’s efforts to stabilise the club.