It was the performance Jurgen Klopp promised, with the hero that he prayed for, to show there is life after Virgil van Dijk.
Amid all the dire warnings of a European meltdown, his replacement Fabinho produced an admirable impression of the absent Dutchman, with a towering display at the heart of defence to deny Ajax.
The Brazilian showed some of the dominance in the air, the same poise on the ball, and even found time to produce a brilliant match-turning goal-line clearance that had Klopp beaming at the end.
That was down to the clean sheet he prayed for, alongside the grit and determination he had guaranteed. As the first step on a long journey without van Dijk, it was a heartening one for the German coach.
It allowed the English club to escape from Amsterdam with a crucial victory – thanks to the brilliance of Sadio Mane – that sets them up nicely in Group D.
And while it was hardly a classic European display on a night of pouring rain that dampened any hope of a classic between these two European aristocrats, under the doom-laden circumstances, Klopp would certainly settle for it.
Inevitably, predictably, the forensic focus on this tie was lasered in on Liverpool defence, and the man charged with somehow achieving the impossible…replacing the best defender in the world.
Fabinho was not fazed. He is not even a centre half if truth be told, has played only a handful of games there. but he is versatile, and he is willing. He also showed he was up to the task – against Ajax at least.
The Dutch side are mobile, and they are swift on the counter, and for a defence which has not played together before, that is a real challenge.
With Liverpool keeper Adrian again showing the sketchy form which makes playing in front of him a hair-raising experience, it was even harder, but the Brazilian showed a composure in his play that suggested he will provide decent cover.
Twice in the space of seconds – as Adrian showed poor decision-making again when he chose not to come for a ball over the top – made two immaculate, crunching tackles in the penalty area.
He did even better later in the half, when Adrian again hesitated, allowing the advancing Neres to reach the ball first and lift it over him, but somehow Fabinho not only got back on the goal-line, but miraculously cleared with an overhead.
Van Dijk would have been proud, and it was a huge moment just before the interval, with Liverpool by then ahead.
The goal came from another Mane thrust – where else – as he turned with sublime artistry, but then kicked the turf to slice a shot…only for the desperately unfortunate Nicolas Tagliafico to get his legs in a tangle like a Primary School newcomer, and turn into his own net.
Mane had deserved such luck for his audacious attacking threat, his pace far to hot for Mazraoui at right back – who so very nearly gifted a second own goal just before the interval, when he stuck out a leg as Mane turned and shot goalwards, and was relieved to see the ball skip wide of the post.
That made it all the more baffling why Klopp chose to remove his entire front three after just an hour, in what was clearly a pre-meditated decision.
Perhaps though, Klopp just wanted to change the momentum, as ever willing Ajax showed danger on the break when Adrian dropped the ball as he came for it on the edge of the box, and then Davy Klaasen hit the inside of a post with scorching shot.
The Spanish stand in for Alisson though, showed his erratic brilliance too, with two fine stops either side of half time, first a brilliant one from sub Quincy Promes, and then another from the same player.
Losing their front three subdued Liverpool, but it also damped the game, with Ajax offered less room to break into, though there were some anxious moments as they poured forward at the end, Adrian again dropping the ball. But Fabinho – who else – was there to clear.