At the close of this weekend's Premier League proceedings, Liverpool will be seventeen points behind Tottenham Hotspur, who sit second in the table behind Leicester City. Most neutral observers will likely agree that the 1-1 result was a fair outcome, and Liverpool supporters looking for a silver lining can probably draw encouragement that their club was able to stand toe-to-toe against one of the in-form sides of this season's campaign.
In any event, an arguably sterner test awaits in the Europa League in the form of a Thursday visit to Borussia Dortmund. On their day, Liverpool have been able to manhandle some of the powerhouse sides of the Premier League, but they have also been guilty of stumbling ineffectively against more modest opposition. They will now have the opportunity to measure themselves against one of the continent's best (no disrespect to FC Augsburg).
Vice-captain James Milner believes that with some minor adjustments, Liverpool will be ready for that test. Jürgen Klopp's side certainly had their chances against Tottenham, but it was a match where everything appeared to be on the precipice of total bedlam, and neither the hosts nor the visitors can really claim to have been in control for any significant period. What's the basis, then, for the view that not much needs to be changed, and what are the adjustments that Milner feels are called for?
"A lot of lads have done a lot of travelling this week, international breaks are never too easy, coming back when you haven't been together, playing different styles in different teams for two games, and you come back and play club football.
We only had one session with everyone together with the boys who played midweek.
It's not an excuse but hopefully we can gain that extra that we needed today from being together over these next few days and go again on Thursday.
I think at times today we were a bit frantic and the game was at such a high tempo without the ball, we needed to be a bit calmer with the ball and maybe take that extra pass."
Implicit in Milner's thoughts is the view that Dortmund will be an opponent offering a similar all-action pressing game that Tottenham have deployed, and with which Liverpool themselves are no doubt familiar. And in this, Milner is not incorrect. Whatever the similarities between Tottenham and Dortmund might be, observers would be well-advised to remember that the German club found their way into Thursday's matchup by handily overpowering Tottenham (who admittedly did not commit their best playing cards in the contest) over two legs.
Milner is also justified in pointing out the disruption of the international break, and in looking to the benefits of having the squad train together one more time. Perhaps that extra bit of cohesion will indeed help Liverpool find the calmness and composure that was at times elusive in the match against Tottenham. The counterpoint to Milner's observation is that Liverpool will once again be traveling mid-week, and that they will be asked to find that calmness and composure in one of the most famously raucous stadiums on the continent. We won't even mention the minor novelty of this being Klopp's return to the ground where he forged his reputation and cemented his bond with the Dortmund supporters.
A test it will no doubt be. To expect a comfortable victory is perhaps to be blindly optimistic. At a bare minimum, Liverpool supporters will want their side to summon a level of play closer to what they have demonstrated in their recent home victories over the two Manchesters, rather than what they showed during their puzzling capitulations against insert-relegation-candidate-here. Only then will Liverpool have a true measure of where they stand against the best.