Richard Buxton: Depleted Porto offer a springboard for Liverpool
Liverpool's task made easier as visitors have only 16 outfield players available
Liverpool are currently the very definition of Einstein's theory of insanity.
They keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different set of results.
No matter how many victories Juergen Klopp's side continue to rack up, Manchester City always seem to trump them at the crucial moments in the English Premier League title race.
Anything the Reds can do, the reigning champions still manage to go one better - and only a rare bout of mortality at the Etihad Stadium will see the title relocate 56km west to Anfield.
In the Champions League, too, Pep Guardiola's history-makers could compound the wait for renewed success if they meet their regional rivals in this summer's showpiece in Madrid.
But the tables could finally be about to turn in another potentially season-defining week.
Each passing week since the turn of the year has been the one where Liverpool's bid to end an agonising 29-year wait for the title will either be won or lost.
Facing Porto in the quarter-final, first leg of Europe's elite club competition tomorrow morning (Singapore time) is no different.
The task of inflicting a second successive Champions League knockout defeat, on a team embroiled in their own title tussle in Portugal's Primeira Liga, has become all the more easier by a selection headache that leaves Sergio Conceicao with only 16 outfield players available for the clash.
Not that Liverpool need any additional help to put their visitors to the sword.
In the past 10 days alone, Klopp's players have demonstrated an innate ability for coming through the stern tests which many expected would derail their tilt towards a first title since 1990.
Porto are unlikely to offer the same level of resistance that their hosts faced against both Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton in swift succession during the previous week-and-a-half.
Any hopes of the Reds repeating last season's 5-0 first-leg thrashing in the Round of 16, however, are somewhat ambitious.
There has never been a question of Liverpool's ability to see games through, but it is not the swashbuckling style which ran through their route to the final just 11 months ago.
Nor is it the freewheeling approach which Brendan Rodgers presided over in the 2013/14 campaign.
That in itself should be a cause for optimism ahead of Sunday's visit of Chelsea.
Fans of the west Londoners have begun fantasising on social media about how they will be the ones to "save" English football from a Liverpool title coronation this weekend.
Memories of Steven Gerrard's crucial slip in April 2014 are as fresh in their minds as much as that of the Anfield faithful.
Yet, Klopp has assembled a team that are no longer hostages to fortune.
Liverpool's defence is more formidable than it was once porous.
The current backline, that has presided over a solitary defeat and shipped just 20 goals in 33 EPL games, is unlikely to find itself caught in the panic stations which saw Mamadou Sakho set up the mother of all faux pas.
Role reversal also plays its part in laying the ghost of 2014 to rest.
Just as they did on that decisive afternoon, City travel to Crystal Palace - except this time, they have to play first.
If Guardiola's side blink, the title will become Liverpool's to lose. Anfield's Groundhog Day may finally have a happy ending after all.
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