It was like he had never been away. As he prowled the touchline with that same boyish enthusiasm, there was more than a whiff in the air of the halcyon days that Kenny Dalglish had helped to create, with enough signs of progress here to convince him that his second coming was not the retrograde step many had feared.
But after a first victory in four games, and Liverpool's first in this particular corner of the Black Country since 1979, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for his much-maligned predecessor, who was booted out of Anfield so unceremoniously to make way for King Kenny.
Roy Hodgson did his homework extensively on Raul Meireles before spending £11.5m on him in the summer, but sadly the Portugal international has appeared capable of fulfilling such vast expectation only since his former manager's departure. Meireles was excellent here, with his second goal in a week one for the DVD collection.
You could also count on the fingers of one hand how many impressive performances Fernando Torres produced under Hodgson, but he appeared back to his predatory best here, with two carbon copy goals.
That this comfortable victory was achieved without Steven Gerrard, who will return from suspension against Fulham on Wednesday night, should provide Dalglish with even more optimism. In addition, Liverpool are also expected to table a bid for Aston Villa's left-back Stephen Warnock in the next few days to bolster numbers in defence.
The last time Dalglish won a game with Liverpool The Simpsons were No 1 in the pop charts. Much has changed since then, but Dalglish is still reading from the same management manual.
He said: "We just stand beside each other, and help each other. And we make sure that what we're doing, we're doing correctly. It's not dictatorial. It's just being responsible.
"Somebody asked if I thought that coming back would tarnish my standing with the supporters, and I said, 'Quite the reverse – if I hadn't come back I couldn't have been a supporter'.
"Because every time we need some help, we help each other. If people thought I could help in some small way, then fine. I wasn't thinking about myself. The same as what happened when I was given the job all those years ago. They thought I could be of help to them. Why? I never asked but it's up to them. I was just delighted they asked and there was no way I was going to say no."
This result never looked in doubt on an awful paddy field of a playing surface. Torres had already tested Wayne Hennessey after cleverly bypassing Richard Stearman but could barely miss eight minutes before the break, from Meireles' pass.
Meireles unleashed a dipping volley from 20 yards that looped over Hennessey and into the top corner early in the second period and a desperately poor afternoon for Wolves was made worse when Dirk Kuyt broke into the area in injury time and set up Torres for another simple finish.
This was an alarming performance from Wolves. Against Manchester City and Chelsea they secured home wins by using a high-tempo, pressure game to unnerve their opponents. But this was a different strategy – and it didn't work. McCarthy is adamant that his team will survive, but they can ill afford a repeat of this tepid, indifferent performance.
Wolves defender Stephen Ward, whose winner at Anfield in December hastened Hodgson's exit, is refusing to panic, even though the club are only off the bottom on goal difference.
He said: "This is a disappointment but it's certainly not the end of the road. We're in a spell at the moment when we are playing against some of the best teams and the best clubs.
"If we can get through that and stay in and around the chasing pack then we'll have every chance because we've then got to try and get results against the teams around us."