One day, the shocks of this incredible season will cease to shock. Until then, savour the thrill of a new order as the unfashionable clubs march on the traditional elite as defined by this demolition job on Liverpool by Watford.
It was a fourth successive victory for Quique Sanchez Flores and his team, who have climbed within a point of the Champions League places. Crystal Palace are above them and Leicester are running away at the top.
Liverpool trundle along in mid-table and no sooner does Jurgen Klopp detect something resembling progress than he is left to digest a ragged and untidy display like this.
Watford took the lead after Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan dropped a corner before Nathan Ake was able to tap home (second left)
Watford striker Troy Deeney raises an arm in the goalmouth as Bogdan, standing in for Simon Mignolet, makes a late scramble for the ball
Klopp’s team were two down inside 15 error-strewn minutes, never recovered and might have conceded more, long before the third went in, five minutes from time, as they took risks in the chase for an unlikely comeback.
Nathan Ake pounced to score Watford’s opener in the third minute, after goalkeeper Adam Bogdan had fumbled a corner and Odion Ighalo added the others, taking his personal goal tally for the season to 12.
The result was a fair reflection of the game, and this was not an occasion when Klopp could grumble about physical tactics. Liverpool’s opponents were stronger, better organised at the back, more potent in front of goal and they oozed desire.
By the end, the home crowd were singing about European football. The last time Watford were this good, Liverpool were better, but Klopp must realise the enormity of the task if he is to restore this club to its glory days.
Bogdan was not the only Liverpool player who started badly, but his mistake set the tone. A simple catch spilled from his grasp. Perhaps he was distracted by Troy Deeney running across his eye-line but he should not have dropped it.
Under pressure, the goalkeeper claimed the ball was kicked from his hands as he scrambled to recover. He might have had a point, but no foul was given and Ake forced it over the line from a few inches out.
On loan from Chelsea, it was his first for Watford and the 20-year-old went to perform with aggression and awareness in a well-drilled defensive unit.
For Bogdan, making his Premier League debut for Liverpool after some fabulous form in the Capital One Cup, it was a dreadful start on a day when he was desperate to impress. Simon Mignolet was out injured this was a big chance.
Bogdan was soon picking out the second, this time courtesy of a precision finish by Ighalo.
Troy Deeney lifted a long pass behind Liverpool’s defence and Ighalo proved too strong for Martin Skrtel. He took the shot early, squeezing it in from a tight angle, off the base of the far post.
There were similarities to his goal against Norwich in Watford’s previous game at Vicarage Road, when he held off Sebastien Bassong, and another example of his deadly accuracy.
Liverpool were at their messiest at this point, unable to exert any control in midfield, creating little and painfully vulnerable at the back. Another Bogdan slip was covered up by Skrtel before the Hungarian ‘keeper made a sharp save, low to his left to deny Jurado.
Problems deepened for Klopp when Skrtel hobbled off before half-time with what appeared to be a pulled hamstring. He had required a long spell of treatment, earlier in the game, having fallen heavily on his back after an aerial challenge.
On came striker Divock Origi and Liverpool reshuffled with Lucas Leiva moving into central defence, where he could not keep Deeney and Ighalo quiet but was at least more secure than Mamadou Sakho, who played as if dizzy, without a trace of composure.
Liverpool were improved after the break and forced a cluster of decent chances. Heurelho Gomes saved from a very subdued Coutinho, then from Origi, Alberto Moreno sliced wide and Miguel Britos blocked from Adam Lallana.
Watford were firm and ever dangerous on the counter-attack. Ighalo twice darted past Sakho, leaving him in a heap on the turf. The first was an elaborate piece of skill in a tight corner of the penalty area but he was crowded out before he could unload a shot.
Bogdan made a splendid save on the second occasion, when Ighalo was clean through with a run at goal and seemed set to kill the game.
The let-off allowed Liverpool to summon a spirited final half-hour. Klopp threw on more attackers and Watford’s defensive resilience was tested, but they preserved an eighth clean sheet of the campaign.
Henderson wriggled past Ake but drove his shot too close to ‘keeper Gomes, who turned wide a sweetly-struck 25-yarder from Emre Can, and another attempt by Henderson hit Britos on the head and skidded high and wide.
It was a sign that there would not be another dramatic last fight-back to match the point they salvaged against West Bromwich and hopes were crushed when Ighalo buried a fine cross by Valon Behrami with a close-range header to spark celebrations.