Stuttering start for Benitez
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez produced his glasses from their box and polished them with dramatic irony when asked to assess referee Phil Dowd's display in the defeat at Spurs.
As a moment of comedy it went down well - but if Benitez seriously believes officials were to blame for Liverpool starting the Premier League season with a loss at White Hart Lane, then those same spectacles are heavily rose-tinted.
Sure Benoit Assou-Ekotto's late penalty box barge on Andriy Voronin fell into "you've seen them given" territory and the same player was the culprit in a later handball claim, but Benitez's eyes would be better focused on his own team's failings.
And, spectacles or not, Benitez had detected the major flaw that undermined Liverpool's attempt to make a winning start to the season they hope will end a 20-year wait to reclaim English football's top domestic honour.
Benitez cut a subdued figure in White Hart Lane's media theatre as he delivered the evidence: "We have to improve in the middle... keep the ball and pass the ball better... as a team we were not comfortable in possession..."
He had the identikit player in his own possession to solve that last season - namely Xabi Alonso. He is now part of Real Madrid's expensive reconstruction and his replacement, Alberto Aquilani, is still some way from full fitness.
Javier Mascherano and Lucas have qualities to recommend them, but playing the killer pass or providing a constant supply line to what will be the main thrust of Liverpool's title challenge this season, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, are not among them.
Gerrard and Torres were marginalised by a chronic lack of service, and when Liverpool did fashion rare moments of threat, they were snuffed out by Ledley King and the outstanding Sebastien Bassong, who enjoyed just about the perfect debut.
The creative deficit left by Alonso was top of the agenda at the end of day when Liverpool were hot and bothered, irritable, out of sorts and well beaten by a superior Spurs side, who followed manager Harry Redknapp's demands to press their opponents into submission to the letter.
Redknapp was clearly delighted with his team and made no bones about how Alonso's absence reduced Liverpool's threat, saying: "They'll miss him for sure. He is quality. We planned to press Liverpool but it is hard to press Alonso because he can pass the ball around corners, do it first time, and get the ball into Gerrard.
"They will miss him but Aquilani is meant to be top class as well so we'll see."
Again, it is ludicrously premature to proclaim the sale of Alonso as the moment Liverpool's attempt to unseat Manchester United was holed below the waterline. Aquilani's introduction will place the deal in its true context, but on the evidence of this loss, he cannot get fit quick enough.
Benitez, having dealt with Dowd, did not miss 26-year-old fourth official Stuart Attwell with his verbal potshots either, complaining he was too young and needed to "calm down" after his assistant Sammy Lee was sent from the dug-out following a late spat sparked by those penalty claims.
All in all. Not a good day for Liverpool, or indeed those of us who believe they will win the Premier League this season.
No long-term verdict can be delivered after one game - if the same criteria were applied to Liverpool's neighbours Everton after their shocking 6-1 mauling by Arsenal, David Moyes would be told to return to his training ground and start preparing for the Championship.
Liverpool's season will not be railroaded by a single defeat and Torres and Gerrard will find plenty of ways to win games in the season ahead - but there were genuine areas of concern.
Benitez's decision to play Ryan Babel ahead of Yossi Benayoun was, in my opinion, mystifying or, to put it another way, wrong. Benayoun ended last season in outstanding form and it was no coincidence Liverpool's first sustained periods of pressure came after he was introduced for Babel.
Babel did not even flatter to deceive - he simply did not flatter at all. There appears to be a decent player in there trying to get out, but Liverpool and Benitez cannot wait forever.
Liverpool's defence was troubled throughout, with Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher seemingly disorientated by a heavy clash of heads, while the threadbare nature of his subsitutes' bench (as in players sitting on it not the actual bench itself) in comparison to Spurs will be another worry for Benitez.
I asked Benitez whether the weight of expectation, as opposed to hope, that Liverpool carry into the new season had created additional pressure on both manager and players, perhaps inflicting subtle changes on the mindset.
It was a theory he swept aside, saying: "We knew we were playing against a good side. It is not the pressure, we were simply not comfortable with the ball."
For Spurs, no such concerns existed after a performance that suggested the good work done by Redknapp in renewal last season will be built upon in this campaign.
Redknapp's trademark tag as a "wheeler dealer" understandably causes him dismay. It damns his managerial ability with faint praise and he has already made some potentially key additions to the Spurs squad.
Bassong was a central figure, literally, at both ends of the pitch in his Premier League debut after an £8m move from Newcastle. He provided power and pace at the back and scored the winner with a towering header, as impressive in its own way as the thumping opener from Assou-Ekotto.
Redknapp also has the chance to polish a real gem in Wilson Palacios. He provides brawn, and a great deal more besides, to compliment the brains of Luka Modric, who is all feints, darts, first time passes and clever contributions.
Modric is what many would call, in a good way, a typical Spurs player. Redknapp hopes Bassong and Palacios can also become typical Spurs players - and combine the two styles to make a winning formula.
Redknapp has competition for places all over the pitch, and in our rush to portray Manchester City and their countless millions as the most serious threat to the top four cartel, we may just have done Spurs and Redknapp a disservice.
Early days yet though. How will Spurs fare on their travels this season? It was a question Redknapp posed himself.
Spurs will hope for more of the same with the season in its infancy. Benitez will simply hope Liverpool suffered an attack of first day lethargy.
And that tip of Liverpool for the title? Firmly sticking with it - but Benitez must hope his faith in the fragile Aquilani is rewarded.
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