In a weekend full of goals Stoke and Liverpool looked to be playing out the weekend's only goalless affair until a Philippe Coutinho special in the dying embers of the game won the match.
The late winner was barely deserved as the Reds created next to nothing, serving as poetic justice as they returned to the scene of the crime where the Potters battered them 6-1 in the last game of the 2014-15 campaign - their heaviest loss in 52 years.
Mark Hughes' men had their highest ever points total (54) and best finish (ninth) last season and showed why by keeping things tight and occasionally causing panic in the Liverpool backline. However, they themselves only had one shot on target suggesting they had not done enough to win despite having the better chances.
The best chance fell ironically to Glen Johnson who joined the Britannia outfit from Liverpool in the transfer window on a free deal after his contract ran out. The moment occurred late in the first-half when the ball fell to the right back on the penalty circle but the normally composed defender blazed over.
Prior to the goal Johnson's former teammate Coutinho was having a horrendous game. The Brazilian burst into life in the 86th-minute when he turned Steve Sidwell after receiving a throw-in, dribbled into the middle from the left and belted the ball from more than 30 yards. Goalkeeper Jack Butland got a hand on the ball but the swerve and power carried it into the net.
Ings did not play and neither did Divock Origi but other summer signings did. Joe Gomez looked comfortable at left back; James Milner added bite in the middle and showed it by getting a yellow for a challenge in the first-half; Roberto Firmino was given a 10-minute run out after playing in the Copa America for Brazil and consequently hardly featuring in pre-season.
Christian Benteke was the Merseyside club's biggest summer signing and most of the pre-match build up was on how Liverpool would adapt to feed him chances. As it transpired long balls were not on the menu and neither was an avalanche of crosses. Instead a mix of attempted through balls and the odd cross came in. Whilst Benteke looked full of verve, he was ultimately starved of good service.
That might worry Rodgers but he will take note of the fact his side were average going forward for the majority of the game and only looked cohesive when Emre Can came on for the ineffective Adam Lallana and changed the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3.
Stoke will take much pleasure from that as they look to finish even closer to Liverpool as they had their closest finish to the Reds in 50 years last season. With Xherdan Shaqiri watching from the stands reportedly close to signing on a permanent deal, that ambition remains possible.