The pre-match Remembrance silence here evoked all sorts of memories, of football's past, as well as the fallen. These teams met at Anfield 30 years ago, just after Bill Shankly had died, and when the players lined up in an emotional demonstration of respect for the great man the Swansea City manager, John Toshack, stripped off his tracksuit top to reveal his old Liverpool shirt.

Halcyon days, for both clubs. Liverpool were champions that season, as they usually were in that era, and in trying to bring back the good times Kenny Dalglish has sought to replicate the old Toshack‑Keegan spearhead with another little and large pairing, Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez.

Unfortunately for all concerned, whereas the excellent Suárez may be Keegan's equal, Carroll is "Tosh" only in the pejorative sense. At the moment the £35m recruit from Newcastle United more closely resembles the white elephant that was Gérard Houllier's Erik Meijer (no league goals in 24 games).

Liverpool were poor – Dalglish's own description – on Saturday, outplayed for embarrassing periods by the Premier League newcomers whose entire team cost well under £10m. The quality of the Swans' pacy passing game was such that the home crowd applauded them off at the end. Liverpool, in contrast, made their heads-down exit to desultory booing.

Dalglish's red army of supporters mostly accept that these are early days, that "King" Kenny is only 10 months into his reign, but many were expecting better progress from a squad reinforced at a gross cost of £110m. Draws at home to Sunderland, Norwich City and now Swansea are not what they want.

Dalglish claimed he had not heard the booing, in which case he will have been in a minority of one. The fans made plain their displeasure at the continued shortcomings of Jordan Henderson and Carroll (combined cost £53m), both of whom were substituted, and the way in which Swansea's unsung midfield outshone their own. It will not be lost on the most knowledgeable crowd in the game that Liverpool's fourth-place aspirations are likely to go unfulfilled, with Spurs and resurgent Arsenal playing cohesive football on a different plane.

Brendan Rodgers, Swansea's bright young manager, felt this was the day his team arrived as fully fledged members of the elite. They had managed only one point from six away games previously, but were attractively competitive from first to last this time. "We're little old Swansea and the thought was that we would roll over but I think we've shown we're here to play good football and here to fight."

• This article was amended on 9 November 2011. The original said players lined up in a demonstration of respect for Bill Shankly when Liverpool and Swansea last met at Anfield at top level in 1983. This has been corrected.