Jurgen Klopp’s side was ripped apart by an Aston villa team which exposed the reigning champions’ chin in quite brutal fashion.
It finished 7-2, but it genuinely could have been anything. Liverpool, a side that prides itself on its heart and its cohesion, its solidity and structure, were unrecognizable, bewildered strangers with Liver Birds on their chest but shoelaces tied together.
Their first-half display, in particular, was about as bad as it gets. Never under Klopp have they looked so weak, so vulnerable, so utterly ill-at-ease.
You would have seen better, more convincing defending in the Liverpool Sunday League.
Barkley could have had a hat-trick of his own before the break, Grealish constantly picking the right pass, while Watkins was lethal, again feeding off Grealish after 23 minutes before cutting inside Gomez and finding the top corner.
After Mohamad Salah’s driven finish after 33 minutes hinted at a comeback. Villa instantly struck again, John McGinn’s shot deflected past Adrian, and Watkins completed the hat-trick from Trezeguet’s cross.
Klopp did not wait for the half-time whistle to head for the players’ tunnel, his determination to be ready and waiting in the dressing room sending its own message.
Hopes of an immediate Liverpool response were extinguished 10 minutes into the second half when Barkley’s shot deflected past Adrian. Again, the keeper had to do more.
Salah, the only Liverpool player to emerge with any credit, struck again on 61 minutes, but Villa did not stop, Grealish the latest to benefit from a deflection to beat Adrian at the near post. He added a seventh after Liverpool continued to play with preposterous ambition with their high line on the centre-circle.
Villa have now three successive wins in the premier league, as Liverpool now prepare for a trip to the league leaders at Goodison Park. Carlo Ancelotti will not know whether to smile at the visitors sapping confidence or wince at their need to make amends.