Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez welcomed the return of injured duo Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun after more than a month on the sidelines.
Both made substitute appearances in the goalless draw at Manchester City yesterday which did little to improve either side's Champions League aspirations -- although at least neither sustained irreparable damage.
The sight of Torres on the pitch a month after he had a knee operation in Spain will undoubtedly provide a boost for Liverpool as they enter a crucial three-month period which could have serious ramifications on the club.
He was not expected to be back for another week or so, and even Benitez was surprised to have him available for selection at Eastlands.
"He trained on Friday and he was really good. Early in the morning we thought 'no chance' but watching him in the session we thought 'OK, maybe he can'," said the Liverpool manager.
"But we also we had a problem as David Ngog (ankle) was injured and we couldn't play him so we had to bring Torres with us, and because he was so bright in training we thought maybe he was worth 15 to 20 minutes."
Tottenham's win over Wigan yesterday means they have reclaimed fourth place, but it is only on goal difference from City, with Liverpool and Aston Villa just a point behind.
In truth, Liverpool did not do enough against City to warrant a victory but at least they remain in the hunt for a top-four spot.
Having struggled to break down Unirea Urziceni in their Europa League tie at Anfield last Thursday the Reds found it equally difficult to get past City.
The only genuine save of the game came early in the second half when Jose Reina tipped Emmanuel Adebayor's shot on the turn around a post.
Aside from that there was very little in the way of chances, with numerous corners from either side the only time there was any goalmouth action.
"It was a difficult game. We didn't have clear chances, they didn't have clear chances, but we had more possession and but for the pass in the final third it could have been different," said Benitez.
"I don't think the result is good for anyone. We both wanted to win and I have to think about the positives.
"We were strong, we did well and we have two players coming back -- that is all you can say after the game."
Not for the first time this season the Blues found themselves plastered all over the back pages last week following an alleged bust-up between manager Roberto Mancini and forward Craig Bellamy. Mancini played down reports of a row and Bellamy was introduced as a substitute during yesterday's game.
The Blues manager has also admitted it is more important for City to have Carlos Tevez back for Saturday's trip to Chelsea than the midweek FA Cup replay at Stoke.
Mancini does not know where Tevez is at present, having allowed the Argentina star to return home on compassionate leave when his partner Vanesa went into premature labour.
But with mother out of hospital and baby being monitored in intensive care, Mancini wants Tevez back, not least because City have not won since their star striker went back to South America.
The best-case scenario would be for Tevez to return within the next 24 hours.
Even then Mancini is not convinced the former Manchester United star would be ready to face Stoke.
What the Italian really wants is to have Tevez available for Saturday's trip to Stamford Bridge.
"I don't know if Carlos has been doing any training over the last week," said Mancini.
"I hope he has but I need to speak with him when he comes back.
"We play Wednesday, but it is difficult to think he might play then.
"But for Saturday it is possible -- and Saturday is more important."