Liverpool saw their return to Champions League competition come to a close on Tuesday, with a 1-1 draw at home to Basel not enough to see them through to the knockout stage.
The Reds collected just five points from their six Group B fixtures and will now have to make do with the consolation prize of a place in the Europa League.
Brendan Rodgers has conceded that his side were ‘not good enough’ to progress, but he must shoulder some of the blame for that.
His team selection for an away date at Real Madrid in November raised a few eyebrows, with seven changes made for a meeting with the reigning champions at Santiago Bernabeu.
Many saw that as a sign of weakness, with Rodgers conceding defeat before a ball had been kicked.
Liverpool did go on to hold their own for long periods in the Spanish capital, with Real prevailing 1-0, but former Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers manager Gerry Francis is among those to wonder whether the Premier League side now regret not taking more risks in their continental campaign.
He told Sky Sports News: “Only he (Rodgers) knows why. It probably wouldn’t have been something I would have done because I think it was virtually surrendering the situation – you’re not going to win here, we’ve got no chance of winning here. It sort of gave that impression. Whether that is how he saw it, it gave that impression out.
“That’s what they fought so hard for last year, to get into the Champions League so you are playing and competing against those teams – that’s what the Champions League is all about.
“I think that, maybe on reflection, Brendan may, he may, think that wasn’t the right decision to make.”
It is easy to argue that it was not at the Bernabeu that Liverpool saw their European dream die, with an inability to beat Basel home or away and a costly draw on the road at Ludogorets ultimately costing them dear.
Rodgers will be thinking what might have been, though, had he opted to start the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling against Real.
He cannot change the past, though, and must now realign his focus, with it possible that the Reds could go on to enjoy success in the Champions League’s sister competition.