If the worth of a team is shown in their ability to 'win ugly', to grind out a result without playing well, then you may as well hand the title over now because you'd be hard pushed to find anybody winning uglier this season than Liverpool did today.
August was fantastic; free flowing, wonderfully creative football for at least 45 minutes of every game followed closely by a dogged determination to hang onto the result. September hasn't been as much fun; the creativity is somewhat diminished and the results have ebbed a little in the last few weeks, the Swansea and Southampton games moving us from our giddy peak at the top of the table to a more humbling fifth. Damn those international breaks and their impact on momentum.
And Sunderland isn't the fixture that you'd choose to rectify that situation. Wear-side is never a happy hunting ground, beach balls or no beach balls the (self named) Black Cats are always a difficult opponent; to face them in the week where the players have managed to overthrow their insane previous manager and have a point to prove about their own abilities was far from ideal.
It would be unfair to claim that Sunderland wanted this more than us but accurate to say that they really, really wanted this. Liverpool never really clicked. There was a brief spell after Sunderland scored to half the deficit when Liverpool woke up and turned on the style that this team is clearly capable of but on the whole it was one of those 'bad days at the office'. The players that you would trust most were poor; Gerrard was ineffective, Mignolet had his first shaky day.
But even in their ineffectiveness they are crucial; Mignolet's throw started the move for the final goal, Gerrard played what will possibly be the pass of the season for the first of Suarez' two goals. The only thing more impressive than Gerrard's pass was the grace that Sturridge received it with.
Oh, and the Sturridge/Suarez partnership (please don't call them the SaS, it was crass when it was applied to Blackburn's forward line in the 90s, it hasn't improved with age)? Magnificent, utterly magnificent. Constant movement, constant threat, fantastic understanding. Sturridge's goal may have been more than a little contentious (it appeared to be a header from a corner but he mistimed the header, the ball hit his arm and bounced in. With every replay that you see, the ball moves further down the player's arm) but his work in creating both Luis Suarez' goals, his overall contribution, movement and presence was impeccable.
So, we didn't play well and we won, our forwards look to be forming a lethal partnership, our captain can produce world class passes on a day when he does very little else and we have players like Moses and Sakho who are bedding in very nicely thank you very much.
It's been a slightly rocky September and we're second in the table. If a 3-1 win at Sunderland is us winning ugly just wait until we start playing football again. I hesitate to use the phrase 'champions elect' but.......
And Kolo Toure? Godlike. Yet again.