Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted the only real positive from their 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton was that it marked the conclusion of Luis Suarez's lengthy suspension.
The Uruguay international watched from the stands as Dejan Lovren headed home Adam Lallana's second-half corner - defending Rodgers described as "criminal".
Suarez is now available for Wednesday's Capital One Cup tie at Manchester United, where he is certain to receive a hostile welcome, and on the basis of this performance his injection of energy and goal threat cannot have been more perfectly timed.
"I think that is the big positive from today is the fact he is back and is available from next week," said Rodgers.
"Sometimes players like him can make the difference so it is going to be great to have him back and a real boost to have him back from Wednesday onwards.
"I think he is in good condition. He has been playing games behind closed doors and doing a lot of specific work with the conditioning team.
"He is not going to be 100 per cent but he is a worker and a fighter and his condition is good. He just needs to get games to bring him up to speed."
Rodgers was unhappy with a lacklustre performance from his side, who began the day top of the table.
Steven Gerrard tested Artur Boruc with a first-half free-kick and Daniel Sturridge should have had a penalty when caught by Lovren but the Reds did not create nearly enough to trouble the visitors and a 12-match unbeaten run spanning two seasons came to an end.
"I can't underestimate how well the players have done," he added.