Brendan Rodgers was subjected to ridicule the last time he said "near-perfect away performance", coming as it did in the aftermath of a 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg. He resisted the temptation for a repeat at Wigan Athletic, arguably for that reason, though on this occasion it would have been justified after a devastating attacking display produced a hat-trick for Luis Suárez.
The only thing to be mocked at the DW Stadium was the suggestion that Roberto Martínez's team have commenced their annual spring leap away from the relegation zone. Wigan were defensively abject, inviting the trouble that allowed Suárez to overtake Robin van Persie as the Premier League's leading goalscorer on 21 for the season and unable to deal with the creativity of Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool cruised to their first win here since 2007, to the extent that the travelling fans found time to show rousing support for their former manager Rafael Benítez.
From Pepe Reina in goal to Suárez as the spearhead, Liverpool excelled in every position. The hosts were the opposite, their only fight coming from a row between James McArthur and Emmerson Boyce; the pair had to be pulled apart by the Wigan captain, Gary Caldwell.
"There isn't a better striker in the Premier League than Luis," said Rodgers, who reiterated his belief that a lack of Champions League, or even European, football at Anfield next season would not prompt the Uruguay international to leave. "The Champions League is important. It would have been easy for him to walk out last summer but hopefully he can see these next few years will be important years for the club and for him here."
Liverpool were ahead from their first attack after two minutes and their victory was never in doubt thereafter. The visitors sliced through the Wigan defence too easily. Coutinho was the architect as he collected Reina's long clearance, left Boyce trailing and floated a perfect cross over Wigan's central defenders; Stewart Downing planted an unmissable header wide of Ali al-Habsi.
As poor as Wigan were, and they were hopeless in the first half, Liverpool forced countless mistakes from their opponents through constant harrying of the home defence. As soon as Caldwell or Paul Scharner took possession from Habsi they had Suárez, Coutinho, Downing or Steven Gerrard for company and the Wigan display was littered with stray passes and loose first touches. Their central midfield of James McCarthy and McArthur were lost against Liverpool's three and it was a surprise that Martínez never reacted as his wide men, Shaun Maloney and Jean Beausejour, were rarely involved.
Coutinho was at the heart of the second goal, this time taking Gerrard's pass, beating McArthur and threading a perfect ball between Caldwell and Boyce for Suárez to advance on goal. Liverpool's leading striker waited for Habsi to commit himself, then found the near corner.
Liverpool made the contest safe with their third when Suárez, fouled by Caldwell, picked himself up to find the bottom corner of Habsi's goal from the resulting free-kick, via a deflection off Maloney's shoulder and the post. "We were too soft in the opening 20 minutes," Martínez said. "Our defensive performance made it impossible to win."
Wigan did have chances to disrupt Liverpool's momentum but, in Reina, faced a goalkeeper in commanding form. He made three stunning saves before the interval to prevent Boyce hooking a volley into the top corner, Franco Di Santo scoring with a close-range header and Beausejour converting a free-kick from 20 yards.
Suárez had to wait only four minutes into the second half for the inevitable to arrive. Wigan restarted with urgency and were promptly picked off as Glen Johnson waltzed past three lame challenges and sent the striker through on goal. Despite Scharner diving at his heels, Suárez held his aim and nutmegged Habsi for his second hat-trick of the season.