The roar of delight, tinged with more than a little relief, which greeted West Bromwich Albion's win over Liverpool would have drowned the relatively muted response to Liverpool's narrow win against Albion last August when Anfield was reserving judgment on the management of Roy Hodgson.
That is the difference between desperate hope and wary expectation.
The brevity of Hodgson's employment with Liverpool already looks like being the salvation of West Bromwich. In the five games since he took over Albion have yet to lose. Having turned defeats into draws Hodgson is now turning draws into wins, and in terms of what needs to be done to avoid relegation the most significant moment on Saturday came in stoppage time when Nicky Shorey practically turned himself inside out to stop a chip from Luis Suárez floating in under the crossbar.
Two days before he took over at the Hawthorns Hodgson watched his new charges surrender a 3-0 lead to West Ham United, dropping a couple of home points in the process. He has wasted no time reshaping the defence to give a firmer base from which to make better use of attacking qualities which were already there. West Bromwich no longer get flustered when they lose possession.
Kenny Dalglish's team faced defensive problems once Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger had been forced off with injuries during the opening 24 minutes. While Dalglish did not use this as an excuse – "It might have been a little bit disruptive but you should be able to cope" – the inability of one of the replacements, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, to cope with the nimble feet and sure touches of Peter Odemwingie led directly to the two penalties from which Chris Brunt won the match for Albion after Martin Skrtel's header had given Liverpool the lead early in the second half.
Just past the hour Kyrgiakos, beaten by Odemwingie's sharp turn, lunged back and although he got the ball first he also brought down the West Bromwich striker. Then in the 88th minute the Liverpool defender allowed Odemwingie to control a dropping ball deftly on an instep before taking it on past Pepe Reina, who then bowled him over. Brunt's kicks were positively Germanic in their power and direction.
Hodgson does not do schadenfreude. "I gain no extra pleasure from this win," he said. "My great pleasure is taken from beating Liverpool because West Bromwich don't often do that." In fact before Saturday Albion had lost all nine of their Premier League matches against Liverpool without scoring and had not beaten them in any competition since 1981.
While Dalglish has revived Liverpool and got them playing with more spirit and commitment they are far from a finished product. His team dominated the early period and for much of the first half restricted Albion to long shots. Reina's most urgent save needed to keep out a header back from Skrtel, who had intercepted a cross from Jerome Thomas. Yet once Odemwingie started to drift out to the left to find more space before turning inside to take on defenders Liverpool became increasingly uncertain at the back.
In attack Andy Carroll looked short of match fitness following his recent lay-off and after going close in the second minute Dirk Kuyt was unusually subdued. The ability of Suárez to take the ball past opponents in tight situations became Liverpool's best hope of saving the game and but for Shorey the Uruguayan might have done just that.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010