Against Manchester United on Saturday, Christian Benteke was left isolated. With Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings asked to play wide and a conservative midfield more concerned with nullifying United sat behind him, the big Belgian got no support.
It was, in a word, painful. It was, in more than a word, reminiscent of the kind what Liverpool fans saw from Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert last season. An isolated big body striker sat up on his own, barely getting on the ball and unable to make an impact on the game when he did.
However, the difference between Benteke, who cost Liverpool £32.5M last summer, and the other two was made clear when he scored a phenomenal overhead volley, bicycling home a stunning consolation marker. In the end, though, that's sadly all it was: a consolation goal.
"I had some luck and I'm happy with it, but we didn't get the three points," Benteke reflected following Saturday's 3-1 defeat. "For my own confidence it was good, for a striker to score, but at the end of the day I would have rather taken the three points so I'm disappointed."
In many ways it was a moment that summed up a frustrating start to the season for Liverpool. The pieces appear there, mostly. There is talent in the squad. But that talent has yet to be put in a position to succeed. Benteke has shown moments of great promise. But mostly he has been isolated.
Because of that isolation, outside those moments of promise—moments like his stunnerl on the weekend—he has been just as ineffective as Liverpool's strikers last season. To either side of him against United, a similar story could be read out for Ings and Firmino.
Both have shown moments of promise. Both have worked hard. On Saturday, both were shunted wide and asked to provide width while dutifully tracking back to help out their fullbacks. Neither was freed up to provide much of a goal threat against an average and struggling United side.
It was hard not to wonder, watching them struggle to make an impact in roles they were obviously ill-suited for, if it wouldn't have been better to line up Jordon Ibe and Alberto Moreno on the flanks, two players who seem far more suited to the game plan.
Alternately, of course, a narrower formation that played to their strengths and gave Benteke a little bit of support could have been utilised. Instead, it ends up another case of talented players being put in a position to fail and then doing just that. It ends up another disappointment.
"In the first half, we didn't play well," added Benteke. "The second half was a little bit better, but in general we didn't deserve a victory. When I scored, I thought in my mind that maybe we could come back, but then they scored to make it 3-1 and that killed our hopes.
"We have to show more. When you play for a club like Liverpool, you have to show more. That's what we're going to do now in training: work hard, work hard, and try to play well."