Richard Buxton: Liverpool treading a Rocky path
Being underdogs may suit Klopp, who cast his team as Rocky Balboa at the start of season
Contrary to impartial observer claims, Liverpool are not yet "bottling" their English Premiership title ambitions.
The only thing being blown at the end of a goalless draw in their 200th league meeting with Everton yesterday morning (Singapore time) was the gloomy sky above Goodison Park.
Equally, however, the Reds have hardly solidified their domestic credentials of late.
Several of Juergen Klopp's players channelled the spirit of Kevin Keegan in the aftermath of the stalemate with their local rivals and simultaneously vowed to "fight until the very end".
They really would "love it" if they manage to ultimately overhaul Manchester City.
Right now, that appears far from certain. In the face of mounting injuries and unconvincing performances, Pep Guardiola's side are still discovering a way to win.
Successive 1-0 victories in the midst of their title run-in carries a genuine hallmark of champions-in-waiting.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have devolved from runaway leaders to glorified pretenders.
Dropping a combined 11 points from their nine games since the turn of the year is hardly title-winning form, especially as they head into the final furlong of a potentially historic season.
If fine margins were a genuine title-race tie-breaker, Liverpool would currently win it hands down.
Klopp's men have won by a one-goal margin seven times this season to City's six. They have also recorded clean sheets in four such encounters to the Citizens' three.
But conservatism now threatens to derail the German's once best-laid plans.
City previously endured their own fallow period; December saw the EPL holders record a poor return of 12 points from a possible 21. Prophecies of doom inevitably followed.
The same is now being forecast of Liverpool. Klopp bristled at suggestions he had played it safe with his changes in the Goodison Park clash, yet the supporting evidence is overwhelming.
Sending on Adam Lallana to try and influence a toothless frontline appeared almost defeatist.
Klopp's decision to substitute Sadio Mane, arguably Liverpool's most potent attacking force this season, for a player who has not scored for almost two years was not even like-for-like.
Forsaking Mohamed Salah, who was guilty of squandering his side's best opportunities to break the deadlock, would have been a more logical change - just not for one who has failed to find the target in 28 appearances and racked up barely 10 full games in minutes played.
Little about the former England international's recent travails suggested he would have contributed anything noteworthy even before his barren streak was taken into account.
Both Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge represented greater catalysts, not least given their recent track records from the bench.
Opting for impotence over impact was not exclusive to attacking options, with James Milner drafted into midfield ahead of an in-form Naby Keita.
Room for error has become virtually non-existent for Liverpool after this latest stumble.
Where they could once afford a free hit in their remaining nine matches, each one has now become a must-win to ensure they keep the pressure on the league leaders.
Being the underdogs may actually suit Klopp, having cast his team as Rocky Balboa to City's Ivan Drago before.
Even so, something has clearly become lost at Anfield over the past two months.
If Klopp does not rediscover it quickly, Liverpool's title challenge will follow suit.
EVERTON: Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Coleman, Bernard, Schneiderlin (Gomes 76), Gueye, Walcott (Richarlison 59), Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin (Tosun 74)
LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Robertson, van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Wijnaldum (Milner 63), Fabinho, Henderson, Origi (Firmino 63), Mane (Lallana 84), Salah