In terms of what he has to offer, Steven Gerrard has seen better days as a player. Between the years 2004 and 2009 - widely considered to be Gerrard's peak - the midfielder excelled in a unique combination of pace, power, long range passing, shooting, crossing, tackling set pieces.
A king of all trades, Gerrard's extensive range of skills matched with unrivaled stamina and determination meant he was deployed all over the pitch, but enjoyed significant spells as a central midfielder, right winger or as an attacking midfielder.
However, in those seasons, Gerrard played in better squads (at the very least more balanced) than the one he is playing with today and consequentially played in one role throughout the season.
This season, Gerrard has been asked to play several positions, sometimes even switching roles mid-game. These positions have been as an central midfielder and currently as a defensive midfielder.
As a central midfielder, Gerrard excelled in creating chances with his set piece abilities, but his lack of energy - doubled with Lucas's lack of energy - meant Liverpool were very susceptible to the counter on the break.
Recently, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has switched Gerrard to a defensive midfielder and it has worked a treat. The reason why it has worked is because at the base of the midfield, Gerrard does not have to do the pressing, instead the much more mobile Henderson and Coutinho do that for him. Additionally, with the ferocious attacking trio of Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge; most teams are afraid of leaving too many gaps at the back and subsequently they do not attack with as many men.
This means Gerrard is not inundated with defensive responsibilities and can focus primarily on using his long passing range to good use, whilst always being in position to help out defensively. In a sense the role Gerrard is playing is akin to what Andrea Pirlo has been doing his whole career; his through ball to Daniel Sturridge was indeed something out of Andrea Pirlo's drawer.
As expressed earlier, Gerrard is no longer at his peak, the first half against Aston Villa clearly showed that. But the fact he has been able to switch roles so effortlessly at his age (33) and play the defensive midfielder role - a role foreign to him since he was a teenager - whilst having to carry a poor back four is absolutely extraordinary.
Gerrard is no longer capable of dominating games single-handedly like he did before, but he is still producing the same numbers he did in his peak years. I would argue this is because for the first time in Gerrard's career, he is actually having the team catered around him.
What do I mean by that? In the Benitez era, the main reason Gerrard was bounced from position to position was because he did not fit easily into the tactically rigid formations Benitez played. Half the time you had the impression Gerrard only played because his talents were so undeniable, he had to be shoehorned into the side somehow.
The greatest evidences of this is the first AC Milan Champions League final where Gerrard was shifted from central midfield to right back for the more tactical minded Dietmar Hamann after Liverpool were torn apart through the middle.
The other example is the derby match against Everton where Gerrard was accused by Benitez of "not playing with his head" and being replaced by the more methodical Lucas who ended up assisting the winning penalty by Dirk Kuyt.
This season Gerrard has scored 7 and assisted 9 in only 20 Premier League games. Gerrard's greatest goal scoring season was the 2008-09 season where he scored 16 and assisted a further 9. Gerrard's next highest goal scoring season in the Premier League was the 2007-08 season when he scored 11 - as it stands, with 12 games left, Gerrard is on his way to matching that total as well as eclipsing his highest assist total (9) - set this season, last season and in the 2008/09 season.
It is too early to say whether or not this is Gerrard's best season so far for Liverpool; as easily as Liverpool could do a league and cup double, they could also finish 5th and win nothing. Yet, considering the performances Gerrard is putting fits in well with the performances Gerrard had in his peak, it will be well worth the comparison when this exciting season is done and dusted.