Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says the 24 points between his side and Premier League leaders Manchester United is not a true reflection of the gulf in class.
United completed their first league double over their nemesis in five seasons as they remain on course for a 20th title while Liverpool, languishing in eighth place, have not won the league for 23 years.
Rodgers was however buoyant after his side gave a decent performance in the second 45 after a timid first half.
“We are not 24 points behind in terms of quality,” claimed the Liverpool manager following his team’s 2-1 defeat. “The points difference is due to the squad and once we close the gaps in the squad in the coming windows, I have great faith we will be able to challenge.”
Liverpool have not finished above United in the Premier League since the 2001-02 season when Gérard Houllier was manager at Anfield.
The Merseysiders boast more major honours than United overall but have been overwhelmed by their rivals over the last 20 years, with United coming from 18-7 down to reach the magical 19th title before Liverpool.
Rodgers said last month it was possible Liverpool could finish second, suggesting "things turn around very quickly", but that statement appears even more outlandish after their seventh league loss of the campaign.
Daniel Sturridge struck on his Premier League debut for the club to halve the deficit in the second period but Nemanja Vidić's deflected header was the eventual winner after Robin van Persie's opener at Old Trafford.
Liverpool have not beaten any of the top 10 sides in the Premier League under Rodgers, who admitted that must be targeted as the next level for the club to aspire to.
“We have been close in a number of games against the guys at the top end,” the Ulsterman added. “That is the next step for us, to win those games. But this is a football club here that has dominated for many years. People still talk about United’s game against Nottingham Forest [in 1990] that was a defining moment.
“We have got great hope that that will happen here. It is a long journey for us and it is about closing the gap in the squad.”