Surely it ought not cost so much to play in an impoverished match. Having just become the most expensive signing in the history of English football, Fernando Torres was derided by the fans of his old club when Chelsea took him off in the 66th minute. The centre-forward had certainly not flourished on his debut and the £50m fee is a weight he must learn to carry, but there were many around him whose cheaper stumblings went unnoticed.
Liverpool, even so, are entitled to delight. The obligation was not on them to entertain and they could have taken pride in a goalless stalemate. Kenny Dalglish's tactics were impeccable if unexpected. The manager fielded a back three and that was shrewd since the narrowness of the defence could be risked when Chelsea carried such little threat on the flanks. Dalglish has now won four Premier League matches in a row without conceding a goal.
Any fear that his appointment might be burdened with sentimentality is waning. This success was the club's first at Stamford Bridge since October 2008. Dalglish had the luxury of letting his new acquisition Luis Suárez remain on the bench for the entire game. As matters stand, it seems almost useful that Andy Carroll is injured. Liverpool functioned effectively without him and can now anticipate another fillip when the £35m purchase is over his thigh strain.
Everything necessary to Liverpool was already present at Stamford Bridge. Jamie Carragher, who dislocated his shoulder at White Hart Lane in November, made a comeback at Stamford Bridge that suggested he had been out for no more than a day or two.
The defender snapped into sharp action and made a block on Torres. The striker, all the same, was only in that briefly promising position because of a Lucas error that had left Didier Drogba to play a through pass in the 31st minute.
There was a general drabness to a fixture that will still glow in Liverpool's memory. They have grounds to think that they are on the rise. Chelsea, on the other hand, stalled here and qualification for the Champions League continues to be a test of their mettle more than a foregone conclusion. The manager, Carlo Ancelotti, can be sure, in any case, that the owner, Roman Abramovich, appreciates the extent of the rebuilding that has to be undertaken.
Last week's other acquisition David Luiz, at a mere £25m from Benfica, came off the bench for his first outing with Chelsea. He will not have appreciated the novelty of disappointment for the club at a ground where they are often commanding. This was Liverpool's first win at Stamford Bridge since October 2008. No one at the club will care that it came about through the sheer sloppiness of Chelsea. The goalkeeeper Petr Cech failed to collect a cross from Gerrard in the 69th minute and Raul Meireles volleyed the ball home with great composure.
It was disappointing that the entertainment should mostly have been associated with mistakes. Torres lashed a shot high with two minutes gone, but it had been an errant pass from his former-team-mate Maxi Rodríguez that led to the opening. Ancelotti ought to be uneasy that the invention that would have assisted Torres was lacking in the remainder of the line-up.
The scheming of the Chelsea manager for this fixture only saw him outfoxed by his opposite numbers. A means of accommodating important players is yet to be found.
This, of course, was merely his initial experiment in fitting Torres into the scheme. The Spaniard was paired with Drogba and the Nicolas Anelka took up a position a little way behind the duo of outright strikers. Nobody looked wholly comfortable in that arrangement.
There is more time to come for experiments, but in this game the side was blunt. A draw would have been an unlikely reprieve and a penalty appeal in stoppage time went unheeded although Glen Johnson, the former Chelsea player, had been unwise to bump into Branislav Ivanovic.
All in all, Chelsea had been mediocre. Their campaign has a curious air since notions that they might rally to mount a strong defence of their Premier League title are in doubt once more. It looked here as if a variety of alterations is called for rather than the arrival of one great and costly talent. Torres, at least, is eligible for the Champions League, which must be the principal target.
Liverpool, peculiarly for an institution with such a heritage, may be enjoying a relatively low profile in the league. This was a fine win, but the emphasis is still on the reshaping of the club.
The sales of Torres and Ryan Babel paid for Carroll and Suarez, so there must be so far untouched means to continue with the reconstruction of the squad in the summer.
Dalglish, for his part, had been out of the manager's role since a short spell with Celtic in early 2000, but he can only have assuaged any doubts that Liverpool's owners may have had about making this a permanent appointment. A regretful Chelsea can give Dalglish an excellent reference.