Liverpool play like the possibilities are endless - and that is why hope remains
Liverpool 5-0 Huddersfield Town
Such is the fatalism on The Kop, there has been a debate over recent days as to what is most painful.
The instant slaying of a title dream, akin to Liverpool's home defeat to Chelsea in 2014, or the torturous, progressive strangulation that may come to define being runner-up in 2019, where the chances of respite are encouraged by returning to the top every five days - often with a comprehensive victory such as this - only for the suffering to intensify when falling behind again 24 hours later.
Liverpool came into their fixture with Huddersfield still clinging to hope. They dispatched the already relegated visitors with such ease it never wavered during 90 comfortable minutes.
The problem is, in sport and at the modern Anfield, hope can be the greatest tormentor.
Liverpool cannot trust hope. It has let them down too much recently, often at the point where the club has needed it most.
Hope offered Klopp's side a tantalising glimpse of the Europa League and Champions League trophy, only to turn its back on them.
Hope encouraged Steven Gerrard dedicate his entire career to Liverpool in pursuit of one Premier League win, only to satisfy the demands of Manchester City the last time the same cubs were involved in a climax such as this.
Hope allows Liverpool to assume a season in which they have lost once in 36 fixtures will secure the championship.
Hope is no reassuring ally. It is fickle and insensitive.
Yet here Liverpool supporters are once more, 'with hope in their hearts' as their anthem demands, with no choice but to throw themselves at its mercy, this time praying it is City cursing hope's duplicitous promises.
Jurgen Klopp is faithful as ever, even if City's victories over Spurs and Manchester United overcame their most significant barriers to retaining the title.
The Liverpool manager's pre-match call was typically assured, offering the impression three more wins will still be enough to win the Premier League. His side has come too far to be dragged down by defeatism now.
His message was heard, his instructions heeded as his players and those in the stands showed the same defiance.
Supporters are limited in how much they can demonstrate their enduring belief beyond waving flags with more vigour and singing songs a little louder and more often.
In truth, the chants about winning the league have subsided a little over the last few weeks, City's flawlessness ensuring there has never been any misplaced confidence here about the Premier League's destiny.
But it is no longer Klopp's rallying cries that keep the fires burning. Whenever this Liverpool team plays the possibilities still seem endless.
Naby Keita's opening goal inside 15 seconds ensured this would be the evening Pep Guardiola's hope of a favour would immediately extinguish. It was the blueprint Klopp strike, a scurrying midfielder stealing possession, exchanging passes before neatly finishing.
Goals two and three were emblems of this season too, full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson continuing their duel to finish top of the assist charts in servicing Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
At that stage there was another, more tentative hope on The Kop - that perhaps City's formidable goal difference advantage would be significantly reduced.
Klopp had already left out Roberto Firmino and Fabinho as a precaution ahead of the trip to Barcelona. The more Liverpool scored, the more likely others to be given a rest. When Virgil van Dijk was given a standing ovation for shaking off a knock, it was obvious was where the second half priorities lay.
The job was done early.
So the supporters left dreaming of Sean Dyche getting under the skin of City's technical staff, and of Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood or - most poignantly of all - ex-Kop striker Peter Crouch becoming Anfield heroes should Burnley take a point from the champions on Sunday.
And if that does not work they will shower compliments on former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, acknowledging his work beginning Liverpool's restoration before Klopp started to paint Anfield's version of the Sistine Chapel.
They may even dare to believe Chris Hughton can stop City completing a 14-match winning streak.
No matter how often hope lets you down - how lost or false it seems - it has the arrogance to presume millions will still seek and hold onto it.