Manchester City generously applauded new champion Liverpool onto the field before its Premier League match on Thursday -- and promptly showed no mercy by thrashing it 4-0 at the Etihad stadium.
With the title secured a week ago, there was little at stake for Juergen Klopp's Liverpool side who showed far from its usual levels of intensity but the loss, just its second of the league campaign, was an emphatic reminder that City will be desperate to regain its crown next season.
Klopp was quick to defend his team's attitude, rejecting any suggestion his men had taken the game lightly.
“I saw a brilliant attitude. I saw fight. We didnt behave like somebody who became champions a week ago. We lacked fluidity. And in some 50-50 situations they were quicker than us,” he said.
“Man City are incredible. I saw their season, they didn't play a bad game even when they lost,” he said.
After the guard of honour, which included City manager Pep Guardiola, the visitor started brightly and Ederson had to be alert to keep out a fourth-minute effort from Mohamed Salah.
Salah then struck the post after a clever pass from Roberto Firmino, whose hair was coloured red, but if Liverpool thought it was in for another night of festivities, it was in for a rude awakening.
Joe Gomez could not cope with Raheem Sterling's twisting and turning in the box, pulling him to the ground before Kevin De Bruyne converted the penalty in the 25th minute.
Sterling doubled the lead 10 minutes later when after a swift break, Phil Foden found him inside the box and the ex-Liverpool forward cut inside Gomez and slid the ball home.
The 20-year-old Foden made it 3-0, firing past Alisson after a swift exchange with Kevin De Bruyne.
City was showing an unusual willingness to play long balls and after Rodri launched a pass deep to De Bruyne, the Belgian found Sterling inside the box and he slipped the ball goalwards, with substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's outstretched touch only turning it into his own net.
The loss was the joint-heaviest defeat by a side already crowned Premier League champion. Arsenal was beaten 4-0 at Liverpool in 1997-98 in the game after it clinched the title.
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