red warning No Need to panic...but Villa rout exposes cracks in Jurgen Klopp's football masterplan
All rivals will now believe Champions can crack if you get in behind defence
The humiliation inflicted on Liverpool's players by Aston Villa will fade in time, but the damage caused by their 7-2 drubbing may have bigger long-term ramifications.
When a team wins the Champions League and FIFA World Club Cup, before running away with the Premier League title, they build an aura that intimidates their opponents.
Some of that was chipped away as Jurgen Klopp saw his side battered into submission as Villa smashed them in one of the most bizarre games we have seen in many a long year.
All managers from this point forward will tell their players that this Liverpool team can crack if you get in behind their high-defensive line. If Villa can hit seven past them, everyone else may start to look at Klopp's team in a slightly different light.
Despite the magnitude of the defeat, this is not a moment to hit the panic button. Not yet anyway!
Liverpool haven't become a bad team overnight.
But we have seen signs of weakness in Klopp's defensive set-up since football returned in June - and the statistic that they have conceded 11 goals in their first four Premier League games is a big concern.
I can't explain what happened to a Liverpool team that was as bad as we have seen at any point in the Klopp era and to a man, you expect so much more from players who have become serial winners in the last year.
A strange Sunday afternoon started with Liverpool fans filling social media with joyous messages as Manchester United were hammered 6-1 by Tottenham at Old Trafford.Yet those smiles didn't last long, as we were all left stunned by the events at Villa Park as the champions were gunned down in brutal fashion.
It was impossible to explain what had unfolded in those two games and I'm convinced the absence of supporters in the stands is contributing to some of these crazy scorelines.
You look to Everton and West Ham playing with a freedom that we have not seen from them recently. I believe it is because the fans, who have been on their backs and piling pressure on them to perform, are not part of the equation at the moment.
At the other end of the spectrum, Liverpool are not being cheered on by their vocal support that can turn the atmosphere in a stadium and lift the team when they are struggling.
With no fans in the stands, these Premier League games are essentially made-for-TV events that feel a little like training-ground matches for players.
Yet everyone has to adapt to the new normal and Liverpool have to be better than they were at Villa Park.
They were not helped by the positive Covid-19 tests ruling out Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane, but it was no excuse for the mess that unfolded on our TV screens and what happens next is crucial to the team's short-term future.
Klopp needs to decide what to do with his defensive structure, as this high line he is playing was cruelly exposed by a Villa side that had an attacking performance to remember.
Everything went for them on a night when crazy deflections were flying into the top corner and Liverpool's defenders made mistakes to gift them chances.
I think Klopp has to take a long, hard look at his defensive line and decide whether to tweak his approach - as these cracks have been seen far too often in the last few months.
It was too easy for Villa to chip balls in behind the Liverpool defence, expose the spaces left by the attacking full-backs and create chances aplenty.
The midfield gave the defence no protection and Liverpool's forward line looked off the pace, with the pressing that starts from the front of Klopp's team sadly lacking. It seemed they were shaken like a boxer who had taken a few too many big left hooks.
Now the reaction needs to be immediate and it has to come in Saturday's game against Everton at Goodison Park.
Klopp won't get too much time with his players to prepare for the game as some of them will still be playing international football on Wednesday night.
However, the Goodison Park encounter is now the biggest derby game in a long time, for so many reasons.
Everton fans don't need an invitation to start gloating on social media and my Twitter timeline has been inundated with Toffee fans singing from the rooftops about their side's flying start to the season under Carlo Ancelotti.
Fair play lads, your team have won four matches and their summer signings have looked decent.
But the big test is coming next week and we are about to find out whether your team is the real deal.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford is not up to the job of playing for a top-four club and it was no surprise to me that Ancelotti brought in Sweden international Robin Olsen on transfer deadline day last Monday.
They also have questions to answer in their own defensive line - and they will certainly be asked by a Liverpool side that should be desperate to snap back from their biggest setback in a couple of years.
Everton will come a cropper sooner rather than later and it wouldn't surprise me if it happens against Liverpool, especially if Ancelotti shows a little more attacking ambition than he has done in recent ties against Klopp's side.
Ancelotti has come up with a formula to stop Liverpool in his time with Napoli and Everton, but his team needs to go and beat them if they want to be considered as anything other than a flash in the pan at the start of an unusual season.
I still believe any team finishing ahead of Liverpool will be champions.
Mind you, Premier League predictions are increasingly tough to back up after the craziness we have seen over the last month.
My Twitter timeline has been inundated with Toffees fans singing from the rooftops about their side's flying start under Ancelotti