Liverpool proved they are not ready to be replaced in the top flight elite by Manchester City just yet as Yossi Benayoun's equaliser secured a draw at Anfield.
The mega-rich men from Eastlands arrived on Merseyside intent on proving they were top four material but they found a Liverpool side in defiant mood despite more injury problems.
Martin Skrtel put Liverpool in front but Emmanuel Adebayor and Stephen Ireland sent City ahead before Benayoun equalised.
Despite the furore over Liverpool's use of a Belgrade clinic to get players fit for a key week of vital matches in Europe and the Premier League, all four of the men sent to Serbia for treatment failed to make the starting line-up.
Glen Johnson was not even on the bench, where Benayoun, Albert Riera and Fabio Aurelio were initially named.
Liverpool had Steven Gerrard, Ryan Babel and Jamie Carragher, the latter after a ban, returning from the side that drew with Birmingham last time out.
Manchester City made one change from the side that were held at home by Burnley last time out, Nigel De Jong coming into the side in place of Carlos Tevez, who was a substitute.
Liverpool started well, Gerrard attacking the right flank of City's defence when the opportunity arose.
The first chance came after five minutes from a free-kick following a Gareth Barry foul on Dirk Kuyt.
Gerrard swung the set-piece in from the right, Daniel Agger flicked on and centre-back partner Skrtel saw a free header from the left brilliantly saved by Shay Givens.
Agger, though, was injured in the incident after clashing heads with Kolo Toure. The young Dane's legs buckled under him as he was receiving treatment and he was carried off suffering from concussion.
Greek defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos was soon on as substitute, a reshuffle Liverpool did not need against the pace of Emmanuel Adebayor, with Craig Bellamy itching to run at Carragher on the left.
Soon Liverpool suffered more injury trouble. Babel was hurt in a collision with De Jong, and needed treatment on the line.
Babel lasted only a couple of minutes more after his limping return and was replaced by Benayoun.
City were intent on containment and eventual control. De Jong effectively regained midfield possession to set in motion City's calm, thoughtful approach play.
Toure, suffering following an earlier tackle with Gerrard, was replaced at the break by Nedum Onuoha.
And Liverpool produced the lift the game needed with a goal after 49 minutes.
Pablo Zabaleta had given away a needless free-kick for holding Ngog on the left, and when Gerrard swung the set-play into the box, Skrtel was there first in front of Adebayor to stab home from six yards.
City needed to up their game now, and with the fire-power of Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz on the bench, they certainly had the ammunition.
And they waited until the hour mark to withdraw Barry and send on Tevez, who instantly drew a booking for Lucas following a tangle on the half-way line.
City cranked up the pressure as Liverpool fell deeper, and they were level after 69 minutes. Bellamy's corner swirled into the box and it was Adebayor's turn to lose Skrtel this time, heading the ball down into the turf from where it bounced high into the top corner.
City struck again after 76 minutes when Tevez and Wright-Phillips worked well to create a chance for Stephen Ireland to flick the ball past Reina.
Liverpool's response came within 60 seconds. Ngog crossed from the right, the ball deflecting to Benayoun who forced it home from a couple of yards out.