In his post-match presser, Kenny Dalglish spoke about the time the squad spent preparing for a more organized, composed display---the struggles defensively throughout the preseason hadn't quite reached a crisis point, but were deserving of increased attention and played a large part in Liverpool's midweek preparations. And for most of the 90 minutes, it paid off, with an experienced and confident back line largely shutting down Valencia's attack.
Success at the back also allowed for more fluidity going forward, particularly in the first half with fully-fit versions of Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio keeping the ball on the turf and distributing both through the midfield and down the flanks. And nobody seemed to benefit more than Stewart Downing, who turned in probably the best individual performance of the preseason and proved a threat nearly every time he was in possession. Excellent wide and dangerous moving inward, he provided a much-needed boost going forward and was unfortunate not to be directly involved in a goal. He also gave support at the back when needed, breaking up play and tracking back on a day when defensive solidity was the main objective.
So yes, preseason and all that, but for a match in which much of the focus was on finding reasons for optimism ahead of next Saturday's opener, Stewart Downing gave us just that: