Rafael Benitez wanted a statement of title intent to add to words of conciliation when he met Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Anfield on Sunday.
Benitez knew victory against Manchester United would be a powerful tool in talks with the American duo, who have had a very public disagreement with their volatile manager.
Instead, he went into the summit armed only with compelling evidence that Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title will stretch for another year.
Gillett and Hicks - particularly the latter - were infuriated at Benitez's comments after being ordered to put talks about transfer business on hold until they arrived on Merseyside for Sunday's game.
But the path to peace inside Anfield's corridors of power would have been smoothed considerably if Liverpool had beaten Manchester United.
United, however, emerged victorious after delivering an important psychological blow to their fierce rivals' title aspirations.
It would be foolish to rule Liverpool out of the title equation. They have staged more dramatic comebacks than that.
But brutal realism suggests a 10-point gap to leaders Arsenal and nine to Manchester United, even with a game in hand, will prove difficult to surmount.
And it is a hurdle made even more daunting by Liverpool's constant failure to get results against rivals in the so-called "Big Four."
Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have all visited Anfield this season - and none have gone away beaten. The record in these games in recent seasons is wretched.
As at the bottom, results against those teams around you matter, and Liverpool are not getting them against those they are supposed to be deposing in the title chase.
They are consistently failing to damage their rivals when they get them on home turf and the price is heavy.
And, worryingly for Benitez, Liverpool showed a desperate lack of ideas when they ran into the immovable object of Manchester United's defence.
Benitez has been quick to point out when other teams play long balls, so what did he make of Liverpool constantly doing the same in the second half at Anfield?
Not the stuff for purists and not the stuff to unsettle Manchester United.
It was predictable, and consequently meat and drink to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, rendering the potent Fernando Torres virtually redundant.
Liverpool needed to show greater craft around the penalty area to unlock United, and they never looked likely to produce it after missing presentable first-half opportunities.
It will be a source of genuine frustration to Benitez that he regularly has the measure of Europe's elite clubs and yet falls short so often against England's best in league combat.
It will also hurt Liverpool's fans as they watched United celebrating yet another league victory at Anfield.
Benitez needed that breakthrough victory more than ever on Sunday, for a variety of reasons.
And even if harmony breaks out again behind the scenes at Anfield, it will take a mammoth effort for Benitez to finally realise the dream of bringing the title back to Liverpool.