• If it is me getting dog's abuse then good, says Kenny Dalglish
• Sylvain Distin: I cost Everton a place in the FA Cup final
It was 1986 and 1989 revisited for Kenny Dalglish, only this time without the cup and commendations for a Liverpool team at the summit of the English game. Seven weeks earlier, in the same room at Wembley, having again watched his team come from behind to win, the Liverpool manager proclaimed the Carling Cup a springboard for greater success. Following victory over Everton in the FA Cup semi-final, he simply issued an appeal for patience.
Liverpool's first trophy for six years was accompanied by their worst league run in 59 and Dalglish has been left in no doubt by Fenway Sports Group, the club's owner, that improvement is essential after its substantial investment. A cup double in his first full season back as manager would represent a fine riposte even though, sadly, Champions League money carries more weight with American owners than medals.
Conscious of the misery of his Merseyside rivals, of the fact the final is yet to come and arguably chastened by the timing of Damien Comolli's sacking as director of football, Dalglish kept his delight in check on Saturday. But it was there, desperate to be released from a body that metronomically rocked against the wall of the Wembley press room as he held court.
"There are no scapegoats for anything that has gone wrong," he said. "There is only a vision on how we are going to go forward. To go forward and be successful, sometimes you need to get battered along the way. We have got to be strong enough to stand up to that. If it's me who is getting dog's abuse then good, because it takes the pressure off the players. I have been there before and I suppose I will be there again at some stage.
"I have never said at any given time that we are the finished article and we still won't say that right now. But what we will do is that every bit of knowledge we have got and every bit of commitment will all go into getting the football club moving in the right direction.
"I think this football club is a fantastic example to anyone else who wants to have a football club. When there is a wee bit of mud flying about, we stick together for each other. That's the football club that I used to know and it's the football club I am getting back to knowing."
No one rewarded the manager's faith better than Andy Carroll. His £35m transfer fee is glaring evidence of Comolli's poor negotiating skills but he led the line impressively and despite some abject finishing, never shirked responsibility before glancing Craig Bellamy's free-kick beyond Tim Howard with three minutes remaining. Dalglish declined an invitation to declare that the trust he has placed in his signings had been vindicated. "It's not vindicated in one game and we are not going to be judged on one game either," he added.
Restraint was justified. Everton led at half time after a horrendous mix-up between Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, plus a clearance by the former, allowed Nikica Jelavic to score his sixth goal in eight starts, beneath Brad Jones.
David Moyes's side arrived as the team in form and gained a measure of control in the first half without seriously testing Liverpool's third-choice goalkeeper. But they had weathered Liverpool's inevitably determined start to the second half when Sylvain Distin's woeful back-pass enabled Luis Suárez to equalise and from there on, with the Uruguayan driving Everton's central defence to distraction, Dalglish's side were comfortable. They should have been out of sight before the back of Carroll's head applied the finishing touch.
Distin took a long and lonely walk around the Everton end to offer his apologies after the final whistle and later tweeted: "I cost my team-mates, the staff, the club and the fans a place in FA Cup final. Nothing more to say but sorry all of you." He could also have legitimately asked where his team-mates, Jelavic apart, disappeared to after half-time.
Liverpool, no matter how indifferent a team, believe in victory on such occasions. Everton, regardless of their own form, do not. They have not won a Merseyside derby in which Liverpool have equalised since 1931, a damning sequence of 21 games. Carragher said: "It is something in Liverpool's DNA. Not all clubs have got it. We have. Manchester United have got it too. Finding a way to win at big moments."
The occasion was superior to the match and after the city's two tribes had mingled impeccably, the day was encapsulated by Everton's return to Merseyside. They stopped outside Anfield to lay a wreath carrying the club's crest and "96" at the eternal flame to the victims of Hillsborough.