Luis Suarez started the evening as Liverpool captain, and while he gave a good account of himself--scoring a well-taken solo goal and again proving lively--it was the more familiar captain that was the club's most impressive on the night, even if that didn't take much doing in a collective performance that produced little worth remembering.
We've spent plenty of time lamenting Steven Gerrard's shortcomings this season, and we've also spent plenty of time lamenting the fact that we've lamented Steven Gerrard's shortcomings. He's not exactly been a world-beater, but compared to what he produced to start the season he's been an entirely different player, and while he only had a brief cameo last night, he made the most of it.
Gerrard continued his improved form over the past few months, although it'd have been hard to worsen a midfield that was, at best, completely anonymous. He spread play well and showed glimpses of the scruff of the neck captain of old, even if he couldn't find his way around Oldham defenders on a few crucial shots, and had his effort from distance ducked under the crossbar we'd likely be looking at an Anfield replay rather than lamenting a relatively early exit for a side that were inches away from drawing last season's final level with only minutes to play.
There's not much smoke to be blown about the performance overall, and if Liverpool are going to be anything more than pretenders this is the type of match they need to win, magic of the FA Cup or not. It was disappointing, and it exposed problems yet again with the personnel and the decision-making. At the very least, though, it was a good night for Steven Gerrard, and if he's starting to find his place in this Liverpool side, we can be hopeful that last night was another piece of progress that'll see the club become both more consistent and successful.