Liverpool send out title message
Rafael Benitez had only one serious alarm as Liverpool recorded a landmark victory at Chelsea - and it did not come during 90 minutes that confirmed his team as serious title contenders.
It was an alarm of the smoke variety and interrupted Benitez's post-match inquest on how Liverpool had ended Chelsea's 86-match unbeaten record in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
The noise may have temporarily drowned out Liverpool's manager, but it was of no consequence. He had watched his team deliver the message loud and clear on the toughest title territory of them all.
Benitez simply said: "No panic."
And in doing so he was copying a mantra Liverpool had followed to the letter to frustrate the life out of Chelsea.
Liverpool have suffered a series of false dawns in their quest to bring the title back to Anfield for the first time since 1990.
And while Benitez is too cute to be drawn into hype about Liverpool's long-term aspirations, they provided compelling evidence that they will be in the race for the long haul this season.
If Liverpool needed an extra injection of confidence and self-belief after an outstanding start to the season, winning at Chelsea should provide every ounce they need.
I asked Benitez how important this victory was in making his Liverpool players believe they can win the title this season.
The response was the epitome of cautious optimism.
He said: "We showed we have the right mentality and character today. We have belief, we have quality and we have shown we have character by coming from behind so often this season.
"It is enough to be top of the table and now we need three points against Portsmouth to keep this mentality and momentum."
Liverpool have had reality checks at Chelsea in the past, but they produced a performance high on defensive quality, commitment and organisation to signal their serious intentions this season.
It was going to take a display of this standard to shatter Chelsea's record, and Liverpool produced it.
Chelsea dominated possession for long periods, but Benitez had a plan (he said he would not tell us what it was in case Luiz Felipe Scolari made notes) and it worked a treat.
Xabi Alonso's early goal helped, of course, giving Liverpool a prize to cling to. And cling to it they did, on the back of a masterly defensive performance from Jamie Carragher and a smothering midfield display from Javier Mascherano.
Chelsea are light up front in the absence of Didier Drogba, and Liverpool made it their business to snuff out Scolari's midfield and cut off any supply to the out-of-sorts Nicolas Anelka.
Mascherano was the pivotal figure, and when Chelsea did get through Carragher was the barrier.
As Scolari, splendidly gracious in defeat, acknowledged, Chelsea were reduced to playing a game that was alien to them long before the final whistle. Too many long balls and too many wasted crosses.
It was, in fact, code for saying Chelsea ran out of ideas. He could pay Liverpool no greater tribute.
As time went on, I felt it was Liverpool who were going to get a second goal rather than Chelsea fashion an equaliser. And while Ashley Cole missed Chelsea's best chance, Alonso struck a post with a free-kick and the lively Ryan Babel flashed a shot just wide.
I recently blogged about the importance of Fernando Torres to Liverpool. And I do not believe their title ambitions would survive a lengthy absence for Torres or Steven Gerrard.
But they have certainly shown they can cope with brief absences. Liverpool have beaten Manchester United and Chelsea without Torres in the starting line-up, and this simple fact should give confidence to his colleagues and to the club's supporters.
Chelsea played well for long periods, but they came up against a Liverpool side that had the measure of them tactically.
But, even in defeat, Chelsea showed enough to suggest they will shrug off this setback and resume normal service swiftly.
Scolari was hugely impressive after the game. Calm, realistic, dignified and gracious - I'm not sure my old favourite Jose Mourinho would have been so sanguine.
The Brazilian gave Liverpool credit, produced a clinical diagnosis of his own team's failings and also put the defeat in its proper context.
As I said in a blog on this game on Friday, I do not feel we learned any more about Chelsea than we already knew, but we discovered more about Liverpool.
Liverpool's victory has (or should have) huge psychological significance for them.
They have proved to themselves that they can go to what was previously an impregnable Premier League fortress and win.
And they have signalled to Chelsea and Manchester United that they are displaying signs that this might be a campaign in which their title challenge will be maintained.
There will be alarms along the way - but Benitez was able to cope with the only one he had at Stamford Bridge.