If United were not as bad as feared, Liverpool were not as good as expected.
And not even a morale-boosting romp against West Ham can alter the fact that Liverpool 2.0 is still under construction.
With table-topping Arsenal the visitors on Sunday, Kopites must hope that Jurgen Klopp will pay more attention to the weaknesses shown last weekend than the brushing aside of a weary West Ham.
Quite frankly, some of the deficiencies shown against Erik ten Hag’s beleaguered side were alarming for a team with title ambitions.
Misplaced passes, wasted set-pieces, lack of precision in the final third, and wayward, and occasionally wild shooting.
A total of 34 shots was 16 more than in April’s 7-0 annihilation. Only eight were on target.
And the crowd soon sensed it. United didn’t quieten them: Liverpool’s own performance did.
A pity for it was the biggest attendance (57,158) at Anfield since 1963 with the upper deck of the new Anfield Road stand being partly opened.
It was a game crying out for Bobby Firmino. A deft touch here, a pause for breath, a slide rule pass through the eye of a needle and, suddenly, an opening. Instead, there was Darwin Nunez.
The big Uruguayan’s display epitomised Liverpool’s performance: lots of huff and puff, but no end product.
He divides opinion and has won over a few doubters this season, but it’s now 10 games since he scored.
Against United, he had eight touches in the first half and none of them were deft.
You might say the same of Erling Haaland in some games, but almost a goal a game in one and a half seasons is the City man’s answer to that. And he cost less.
Nunez has taken the odd game by the scruff of the neck, but they are few and far between.
Besides the misses, there are the offsides, the risks of being sent off – he was lucky he wasn’t – and hesitation.
There’s just too much dumbness for a club record £80 million.
You feel he shouldn’t keep starting and is best reserved to create some chaos – his nickname – late on if a goal were needed.
But he should not carry the can for the lack of front-line firepower alone.
It’s more than five weeks since a forward other than Mo Salah has scored in the Premier League.
That was when Diogo Jota netted in the 3-0 win over Brentford and the Portuguese – despite missing the last six games with a hamstring injury – is still the club’s second top scorer with eight goals.
Another disappointment – at least in the goals department – has been Luis Diaz who has bagged just three in the league.
His season has been disrupted by injury and the kidnapping of his father, but it’s a poor return after the Colombian carried the attack for much of the previous campaign.
It’s further evidence of Liverpool not quite clicking as an attacking force. Their lofty position has been down to a combination of never-say-die spirit culminating in late goals, Allison’s heroics and Virgil van Dijk’s return to form.
This inconsistency can be traced back to the midfield not being as settled as it first looked.
Dominik Szoboszlai, who looked an outstanding buy, has played in every game but his performances have dropped off of late.
And Alexis Mac Allister, never having quite looked the ideal No 6, has been injured.
Klopp is fortunate that he has a pool of midfielders to choose from and Watura Endo has stepped up admirably, confidence boosted by his sensational goal against Fulham.
Overall, Liverpool are doing better than expected. Besides a lofty league position, they can begin to spot the glint of silverware in the not too far distance.
Only Fulham stand in their way of a likely Carabao Cup final joust with Chelsea who face Middlesbrough in the other semi-final.
The competition has its detractors but players love to win things and winning can become a habit.
They’re also well-placed in the Europa League.
And this season, the title does appear to be up for grabs with Manchester City’s aura of invincibility having been pierced.
Pep Guardiola may well use the Club World Cup as a way of recharging City’s league campaign to coincide with the expected return of Kevin De Bruyne.
With Aston Villa also joining the mix, it does look as if we’re in for the kind of title race we haven’t seen for years.
And it is games like this weekend’s clash between second and third favourites that will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
After the frustration of Manchester United, the win over West Ham was just what Liverpool needed.
And there was further evidence that some of this season’s key men could well be home grown.
Once again there was a composed performance way beyond his years from Jarell Quansah at centre-back and a dynamic goal-scoring effort from Curtis Jones.
But Arsenal have few weaknesses and this will be a real audition as to who is likely to run City closest for the title.
Klopp will want to use the positives of midweek but must not gloss over the negatives of last weekend.
It really should be a better game than that one and if there is a winner, they could well be the pace setters for the second half of the season.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.