BEST team in Europe? Best in EPL history? Next invincibles? Not on Sunday at Anfield they weren't. Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Manchester City were just bested – and looked all too vincible.

Without taking anything from a rampant Liverpool, City imploded. If this had been boxing, the fight would have been stopped on the three knock-down rule – that's how those three goals in nine second-half minutes felt.

City were on the canvas and all their old weaknesses were exposed: a "Dracula" keeper and dodgy central defenders are a football side's glass jaw. But such is their punching power that no one had got near enough to land the knockout blows. Until Jurgen Klopp's heavy metal hitters found a way.

"Pressing from another planet" the German called it and these alien tactics jolted City out of their elegant stride and brought them back to earth. As the Velcro came off their boots, their passing became hurried, their defending uncertain and their shooting wayward.

Fleetingly after the triple strike, the Reds and other chasers might just have allowed themselves to wonder if the title race could be back on. Shell-shocked and struggling to unscramble their senses, City looked as they sometimes did last season when we doubted if Pep was all he had been cracked up to be.

Now Klopp's men were showing how to beat them this season and the thought occurred that the damage might be lasting. Psychological damage that we thought had been repaired had reared its ugly head. With more than 20 minutes left, it could have been carnage.

But as Anfield could barely believe what they were witnessing, City cleared their heads and rallied. If the game had gone much longer, they might even have nicked a draw. But that would have been larceny.

Make no mistake, this was a thrashing, The scoreline is nowhere near as convincing as the 5-0 to City in September, but back then there were mitigating circumstances for the loser: this time, there were none. This felt like another 5-0.

For Liverpool, it could be a seminal victory – the first without Philippe Coutinho and without an injured Virgil van Dijk, too, but the Fab Four lived on – in goals at least, every one of them a gem.

Each of the remaining band scored memorable hits, all very different but still collector's items. Even if there were generous "assists" from City, the Reds showed a cutting edge that rivals have to be wary of.

And if another Sunday night could get any worse for Arsene Wenger, the rout was started by a player the Arsenal boss let go, seldom played in his right position and who even took a pay cut to further his career elsewhere. This was when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finally won over the Kop.

Liverpool are now unbeaten in 18 games and those early season jokes about the defence have dried up. Well, the jokes might have but the doubts are still there – especially between the posts.

Loris Karius did not suggest he's any better than Simon Mignolet and the need for a top, top keeper remains. Until Klopp finds one, Darren Ward must be worth a punt. As with City, it is an Achilles heel that can undo much of the brilliance we see up front.

So where does this leave us with the business end of the season still to come?

Despite all the sound and fury, the tectonic plates haven't really shifted. On this evidence, Liverpool can cope without Coutinho but cannot expect all their strikers to always score superb goals. And definitely need their giant Dutchman at the back.

But with Arsenal sinking and Chelsea fading, they look nailed on for a top four place. The buzz is back, Anfield rocked and Kopites are genuinely optimistic about their team. No one can deny they've made significant progress under Klopp.

As for City, a rude awakening this undoubtedly was, but if Pep heeds the warning, it could be a blessing in disguise. The unrelenting schedule is taking its toll. Players wilted and under the intense pressure several old cracks reappeared.

For all his courage and passing prowess, Ederson is Bravoesque on crosses while John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi reverted to last season's models. Raheem Sterling seemed to "unlearn" all that Pep has taught him.

Only Kevin de Bruyne really rose above it and now with another injury (Fabian Delph) the size of the squad does not match the club's ambitions. They are still dependent on David Silva and should not let a player of Alexis Sanchez's calibre (and who wants to join) slip out of their grasp.

But there is good news for City and it's a compliment to Liverpool: no one else is capable of pressing as well as the Reds – or of delivering the killer blows.

Buses have been parked and lesser teams have bravely taken the game to Pep's pass-masters, but none were good enough to really trouble them. Until now.

City will still win the league but may not have the season they should have unless they reinforce; Liverpool may have a better season than anyone thought.