Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes his team have been tainted by two matches which have done "untold damage" but insists the improvement from the start of the season shows they were written off too early.
Saturday's 3-0 win over West Ham at Anfield was achieved with the minimum amount of fuss - somewhat helpfully in the injury-enforced absence of captain Steven Gerrard - against a side who struggled to rise above mediocre.
The Reds' fourth victory in six Barclays Premier League matches came on the back of a defeat at Stoke the previous week, lifting them to within touching distance of the top four, while encouraging performances from Raul Meireles, given the freedom of central midfield by the Hammers, and Glen Johnson show there can be optimism despite Gerrard being sidelined for a month.
Hodgson said: "There are two games this year which have done us untold damage. The first was when a total reserve team - although it does not seem to have been noticed we had 14 first-team players who didn't play - lost to Northampton in the Carling Cup.
"The other was the disastrous (2-1) defeat to Blackpool at the end of a three-match week when we played in Europe. Those two defeats were costly for us because they encouraged people to make bold conclusions but we've lost one defeat in eight (in all competitions).
"There are still a lot of things to do but what pleased me against West Ham was the shape, discipline and organisation of the team."