Two very different line-ups were on show for Liverpool's first game of pre-season. Two different sides played, but in the same diamond system, though the XI for the second half had to handle a tremendous thunderstorm as well as a poor playing surface.
In both halves the intent was quite clear from Brendan Rodgers' men - he wanted his side to be aggressive from the word go. Some will rightly point to the quality of the starting XI not being the best, but from the early stages there was certainly some comfort and food for thought for the Reds coaching staff - considering the side that played in the first half is one that you would probably expect to see turning out in the Europa League, with the odd exception.
One man in particular who has to impress this pre-season is Lazar Markovic. He made his intent known in the opening stages as he played through the middle at the tip of a diamond midfield. A back-heeled attempt was on target before he rounded the keeper and opened the scoring inside three minutes, laying down an early marker for himself and anyone else vying for a place in an advanced midfield role.
There were a couple of other interesting aspects to the selection. Andre Wisdom - who has usually been used a right-back during his short career - was used at left-back. Rodgers may be looking for Wisdom to take over the job of Jon Flanagan, who is currently enduring an injury nightmare. Joe Gomez - a new signing from Charlton Athletic - looked to get forward as much as possible down the right. He may well be the man acting as cover for Nathaniel Clyne this season, rather than a loan move being sanctioned for the youngster, though Clyne seemed to be the more disciplined of the two for as long as the surface allowed him to be.
One thing to look out for is if Gomez and Wisdom swap roles throughout the tour in order for Rodgers to get a good look at them in different positions.
Danny Ings was unlucky not to have opened his account after displaying a pleasing poacher’s instinct from three yards out, with the referee deciding that Mamadou Sakho had fouled the goalkeeper while trying to find the net himself. The Frenchman did, then, find the net with a terrific header on the stroke of half time.
A welcome sight for Reds fans will have been the return of Jordan Rossiter from injury, with the 18-year-old showing his forward instincts and really ought to have got on the scoresheet himself. That, overall, probably represents more of a clinical edge that still needs to be added to the Reds' game. Joao Carlos Teixeira also returned to the side and had the look of a very technically able performer when on the ball, but probably didn't see enough of it as he would've liked, nor did new goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, who could have sat on a deck chair for his debut and walked away with a clean sheet.
The second half started much like the first. Both James Milner and Divock Origi showed energy and good link-up play, while the unit as a whole looked hungry and their urgency was there for all to see - while Adam Lallana showed the kind of end product Liverpool will be hoping to see more of as he found the net for the Reds’ third. Origi, in the end, got his goal with a thumping header after hitting the woodwork on two occasions.
Not a lot has been written about the Reds' defence and holding midfielders of late, and after the past two years when it comes to the back line, that can only be a good thing. But, in all honesty, they weren't really tested in that department.
Overall, there was a lot to be positive about from Liverpool. Energy, creativity and some good link-up play, but they will want a few more testing work outs before they travel to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.