André Villas-Boas actually departed down the tunnel at the end arm in arm with Luis Suárez, as if even he had been swept up by the Uruguayan's brilliance, yet the expression on Daniel Levy's face up in the directors' box was more reflective of the prevailing mood. The Tottenham Hotspur chairman stared down upon the scene with horror etched across his face, disgusted with all he had witnessed. He has probably seen enough.
This was a humiliation. A game billed as an opportunity to build on that recent spurt of momentum which had yielded seven points in a week, easing some of the pressure on the Portuguese, had served merely to expose his shortcomings. And brutally, at that.
Villas-Boas had patrolled his technical area as his makeshift back line was picked apart from the start, scorched by Raheem Sterling down the right and tormented by Jordan Henderson through the centre. Suárez bedevilled all-comers, admittedly, but that had been expected given his prolific form. Seeing the others revel was more damaging, and the Spurs manager had no answer to stem the flow. No means of imposing his own gameplan on proceedings.
His show of emotion was limited to an apparently baffled shake of the head when Paulinho was dismissed for raising his foot and planting it in Suárez's midriff after the interval. The reaction appeared to acknowledge that everything – fate, fortune, "harsh" judgment calls, careless high challenges from £17m signings – was contriving against the hosts, leaving him with one central midfielder on the pitch and chasing a two-goal deficit.
But Spurs were so befuddled, so bereft of authority from the opening, that it was hard to muster much sympathy. Even if Gareth Bale had been lost to Real Madrid, the £107m poured back into strengthening this collective over the summer made 5-0 home defeats unacceptable. Or 6-0 away losses at Manchester City, for that matter. Liverpool had lost their last six visits here and not won away from home since September, but that trend was bucked with plenty to spare.
The management bemoaned the injuries which had left the influential Jan Vertonghen on crutches, and Vlad Chiriches and Younès Kaboul also in the stands. The France midfielder Etienne Capoue had filled in capably against Fulham and Sunderland, sides beneath the cut-off, but confronting Suárez was another matter.
Villas-Boas had also lost his left-backs, Danny Rose or Vertonghen, and the manner in which Sterling tucked eagerly into Kyle Naughton sent shockwaves through the hosts. Naughton is more comfortable on the other side and, while Zeki Fryers kicked his heels on the bench until the interval and Nacer Chadli offered no semblance of cover, his game was systematically dismantled by the teenage winger. Roy Hodgson, watching from the stands, will have departed heartened at the clear progress on show from Sterling and Henderson.
Yet their efforts undermined Villas-Boas mercilessly. With two members of his back line effectively playing out of position and Michael Dawson unsettled and forever wary of being exposed for pace, Tottenham creaked and broke. A physically imposing team had been diminished long before Paulinho's dismissal.
They were rudderless, drained of confidence and utterly lacking in conviction. This was a return to the Etihad Stadium, poor Hugo Lloris left alone amid the chaos but too exposed to hope to keep Liverpool out. Harried and hassled out of possession too often, Spurs merely wilted as Suárez rejoiced in the ease of it all. By the end he had 17 Premier League goals from 11 games this season – no other Liverpool forward has managed that many before Christmas since the division was revamped – with his team having scored more from open play at White Hart Lane this season than Spurs.
It was embarrassingly easy at times, even if the construction of the goals was slickly impressive. Suárez had opened the scoring, first sliding a pass towards Henderson that Dawson could not clear.
The midfielder laid off the ball inside where Suárez had galloped unchecked. He cut inside Capoue and Sandro and curled it in with his left foot. His second came late on, a cheeky clip with the outside of his right over Lloris, though he provided everything in between.
Sterling and Coutinho had combined to liberate Henderson for their side's second goal, Lloris saving an initial effort and then somehow springing from the floor to palm away Suárez's follow-up, only for Henderson to thump in the loose ball on the volley.
The excellent Jon Flanagan half-volleyed a third from Suárez's centre, the Uruguayan then slipping Sterling in for the fifth in stoppage time at the end. Liverpool hit the post and bar through Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho, as well, while Lloris was Tottenham's outstanding performer, and that in a five-goal drubbing. The reality is this could have been so much worse for the locals.
West Ham, 3-0 winners in the league here already this term, are due back at White Hart Lane in the League Cup on Wednesday and even they will relish their return. The next few days may determined whether Villas-Boas had actually departed down the tunnel expressing admiration for his executioner.
Man of the match: Luis Suárez (Liverpool)