Southampton's match-winner Dejan Lovren had more than one reason to smile as he left Anfield having scored the only goal and escaped with not conceding a penalty.
The Croatia international struck in the 54th minute to end Liverpool's 12-match unbeaten league run spanning this season and last.
However, the Saints - the last team to defeat the Reds in March - may not have won 1-0 had referee Neil Swarbrick had the benefit of television replays which showed the defender had brought down Daniel Sturridge in the first half.
That incident aside, however, Liverpool did not create nearly enough chances for a team who began the day top of the table.
On this evidence the return of the watching Luis Suarez, sitting out the final match of his 10-match ban, has come not a moment too soon.
Rodgers' sprang a surprise in his line-up by experimenting in defence by selecting four centre-halves - arguably the strongest area of his squad - after naming Kolo Toure on the right and Mamadou Sakho on the left either side of the returning Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel.
Neither options at full-back looked a success in the first half, failing to supplement their defensive duties with anything approaching the usual attacking roles expected of that position.
Saints' right-back Nathaniel Clyde got forward more than the pair of them in 45 minutes in which his side did not have the majority of possession but were not afraid to commit men to attack.
Sakho, on only his second appearance after a less-than-convincing outing in central defence in the 2-2 draw at Swansea on Monday, is seen as the long-term option in the middle but being broken in at left-back seemed almost like the Reds boss was accommodating the Â£16million signing from Paris St Germain for the sake of it.
The watching Jamie Carragher, who patrolled central defence so brilliantly for so many years for Liverpool before his retirement last season, will no doubt have left with plenty of ammunition for his new role as a television analyst.