The only team that can deny Liverpool their long-awaited maiden Premier League title are Liverpool themselves.
Ghosts of 2013-14 may still linger around the place, even if the constituent parts of that campaign are gone with the wind.
But Liverpool need to embrace the hyperbole being spouted by the majority of their fanbase for once, and that’s where the tides have turned.
For far too long, sub-par Reds sides were hailed for mediocrity and failed promise has engulfed them. The last thing this squad now need is the swagger and cockiness that Man City made clear was part of their DNA last term.
Finally, ‘next year’ may actually be this year and that transition, mentally, is tough to digest.
Jurgen Klopp, regardless of what happens now, has done as good a job as Guardiola has. Trophies are often the shining light on any tenure, as Jose Mourinho apologists will tell you every single day – but in truth – that’s elementary.
To take a club whose identity was so battered from crushing defeat under Brendan Rodgers and make them, arguably, the best team in Europe, is something that even Guardiola didn’t manage.
As Liverpool sides of the past struggled with the fear of falling under the same blanket as previous regimes, they now need to understand what they’re achieving – because it’s finally worth boasting about.
Yes, City moved the ball with incredible precision last year, but to nick a term from our transatlantic cousins – in terms of sheer offensiveness, Liverpool are king.
Watching Barcelona went from jaw-dropping experience to tedious repetition and that’s because sometimes possession-based football lures you into a rhythmic state of hypnosis.
Liverpool would have scored twice by the time you realised you were back in the room. The key to football is pace. And everything else is a bonus.
FULL-TIME! Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal.
The @premierleague leaders go 9 points clear!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 29, 2018
Watch Liverpool and count how many maintenance passes they play in the final third. They don’t wait for you to step out of position, they force the issue and excite all around them.
When you play Liverpool now, you’re no longer playing a club with a soft underbelly who flaunt legacy over substance, you’re playing a side who force their will on you and don’t let up until you’re gasping for air.
This is because Klopp wants this. It’s what makes him eternally more likeable than Guardiola, who’s still trying to find the disparity between political beliefs and a paycheck.
There won’t be a Liverpool documentary with fly-on-the-wall access to diluted team talks or a bald bloke shouting ‘Guys!’ forty times in a row to make a point for a director. Klopp wouldn’t allow it.
After nearly 30 years, Liverpool are on a trajectory to force themselves above everyone again. Their arrogance in doing so will determine how long they perch feels hospitable for.
With Manchester City up next week, we may be witnessing two sides who play the best versions of their particular footballing brands in the world.
If City turn them over, then self-doubt creeps in and the run-in feels significantly longer than it realistically is.
We’re not going to be watching two teams face off, we’ll be watching a Middle East cash-injected soulless entity try to dismantle the redefinition of identity associated with a club who have maintained their core values throughout.
There’s just one aging stereotype that Liverpool need to shake before they can claim that throne: inevitable failure. And they have that chance to do so on Thursday, just a few miles from where the reflection of their failure still shines brightest.