Rafa Benitez fought his corner, as he always does, but a telling insight into the pre-match mood in Birmingham's dressing room ended any arguments about the wisdom of Fernando Torres being confined to the bench.
After costing £20million-plus from Atletico Madrid, Torres might reasonably have expected to spearhead Liverpool's attack more often than not, particularly in the quest for an elusive first Premier League title.
As further proof that predicting Benitez team selections is nigh on impossible, however, he found himself looking on for a second Saturday running as Liverpool succeeded only in leaving their title credentials open to derision.
Endeavour may be a virtue in Benitez's eyes, but making hard work of a side like Birmingham will do little to promote the theory that this may finally be their year.
In a response almost as predictable as his side's attempts to break down a stubborn blue barrier, the manager flatly refused to acknowledge he may have erred in resting Torres, even though the striker has all week to recharge his batteries given that he will surely be excused Carling Cup duty at Reading.
There was a hint of exasperation about his defence, not to mention desperation, as he tried to claim Andriy Voronin was better equipped than Torres for unpicking a massed defence.
"I say 100 times I know my players and when they are tired," he said. "It is easy to talk afterwards about whether I should have used one or the other, but the decision has to be taken before.
"If you have space, Torres would be the best bet of a goal, but there was never going to be any space.
"When you are looking at working between the lines, maybe Voronin is the best we have because his movement is so good.
"We had plenty of possession but very few chances and it is a problem we're going to have to address when teams come to defend."
Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor revealed how Torres' exclusion had provided the springboard for Birmingham's combative rearguard action.
"I was surprised I didn't have more to do and just as surprised Torres wasn't in their line-up," he said.
"They have other great strikers but we were pleased to learn we wouldn't have to cope with him. He is the main man and it gave us a lift."
Benitez's stance was further undermined by Torres's impact when he replaced Ryan Babel on the hour.
Ruffling Birmingham's defence like nobody had before, the Spain striker went close to a spectacular winner with a flying bicycle kick.
To compound Benitez's woes, he was warned to expect more Anfield
frustration as opposite number Steve Bruce mapped out the formula he expects visiting teams to adopt. "You can come here with a 4-4-2 system and have a nice open game if you like, but if you want something out of it you have to stick to your game plan," he said. "That means running a million miles like some of my defenders did and not giving Liverpool an inch."
When he wasn't being pilloried over players left out, Benitez was being grilled over one he selected - Steven Gerrard, no less, who appeared to be feeling the effects of his England exertions.
"It was not ideal that he played in both their recent games," said Benitez. "He is not 100 per cent fresh but the question is how important is Stevie for England? "You suggest it might be better for him not to play and people pick you up on it and say, 'Hey, this is the national team. Keep out of it.' You can't win, really."