Liverpool 5 Swansea City 0
SWANSEA City warmed up for one of the biggest days in a century with their worst defeat in more than a decade.
Not since Nick Cusack's class of 2002 were beaten 7-1 at Hartlepool United have Swansea suffered such a thumping loss.
Michael Laudrup shuffled his pack with a trip to Wembley around the corner and a somewhat patched-up Swansea side were thrashed.
With hindsight, perhaps one or two more regulars should have been included on what turned into a dreadful day for the visiting contingent.
Laudrup's predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, must have enjoyed it, for anything less than a home win here would have left the locals grumbling.
Rodgers's men came into the game off the back of a difficult week, but they did not have a difficult afternoon.
Swansea, by contrast, had prepared for this game by relaxing in the Dubai sunshine.
In truth it seemed one or two minds were still on the beach, and Laudrup will expect much more focus next weekend.
Phil Parkinson will be in the opposite dugout in North London next Sunday.
He was in the directors' box here, although how much he might have learned from this uncharacteristic Swansea effort is questionable.
Laudrup's team were awful, but the Dane will expect a transformation next time out.
"We just hope this was one bad accident caused in part by the huge game we have next weekend," the Swansea manager said.
There was a time not so long ago that Swansea would not — could not — have dreamed of leaving out their big hitters at Anfield.
But this is a club with, er, bigger fish to fry right now in the shape of Bradford City.
Laudrup made no fewer than seven changes to the side which had started against Queens Park Rangers in Swansea's last outing just over a fortnight ago.
A couple were enforced, with Chico Flores injured and Ki Sung-Yueng suffering with a throat infection, but Laudrup did not have to leave out heavyweights like Ashley Williams and Michu.
Perhaps Swansea have earned the right to rest the big guns ahead of the Capital One Cup final thanks to their terrific efforts so far this season.
And Laudrup has made changes before this term, and his understudies have nearly always delivered strong performances.
But they were under the cosh right from the outset here, with Luis Suarez rifling a shot straight at Michel Vorm in the first few minutes.
The tone was set for what turned into a torrid 90 minutes for the visiting fans.
Swansea countered briefly, Itay Shechter making a nuisance of himself to earn a corner which Jonathan de Guzman sent deep towards full debutant Roland Lamah.
The Belgian struck a volley towards goal but Glen Johnson blocked and Liverpool were very quickly back on the front foot.
Suarez was everywhere, the Uruguayan running at Swansea's rejigged back four at every opportunity and regularly ending up flat out on the turf.
One free-kick he earned saw Steven Gerrard crash the ball into an elongated wall. Suarez flashed the rebound over, then did likewise with a set-piece of his own.
Johnson headed well wide from Stewart Downing's corner, then the ubiquitous Suarez sent a long-range half-volley dipping over the crossbar.
Downing was busy on the Liverpool right, and he twisted and turned beyond Ben Davies before crossing for Daniel Sturridge to head over from point-blank range.
Liverpool's heavyweight champion David Price made an appearance on the pitch at half-time, but Swansea were on the ropes long before the break.
The home side ought to have had a penalty on 25 minutes when Suarez fed Sturridge and the £12 million January signing cut in from the right.
Garry Monk did well to slow Sturridge's progress, but Howard Webb ought to have pointed to the spot when Kyle Bartley followed up with a challenge and did not get any of the ball.
Webb ignored the home appeals, though, and Phillippe Coutinho fired wastefully wide at the far post.
Liverpool screamed again for a penalty eight minutes later and this time, in more questionable circumstances, they got their wish.
Kemy Agustien stuck out a leg, Suarez went flying and assistant referee Mike Mullarkey made the decision.
Gerrard missed a penalty in Liverpool's last league game, but he fired low into the bottom corner, giving Vorm no chance even though he went the right way.
Liverpool might have been further in front before the turnaround, Bartley rescuing Swansea with a goal-line clearance after Sturridge got in behind and lifted the ball over the advancing Vorm.
Swansea had offered virtually nothing and, when a rare shooting chance came, de Guzman scuffed a weak effort into Pepe Reina's arms.
Laudrup's men needed a significant improvement in the second period, but what they got was anything but.
Only 15 seconds after the restart, Rodgers's side were 2-0 up, full debutant Phillippe Coutinho collecting possession from Suarez and drilling home from the edge of the area.
Swansea, the team who boasted the best away defensive record in the top flight before this, were now starting to crumble.
Liverpool's third goal was superb, Jose Enrique exchanging passes first with Suarez and then Sturridge before prodding the ball over Vorm and into the roof of the net.
Liverpool's next attack brought their next goal, Downing feeding Suarez and the £23 million former Ajax man doing the rest.
Suarez turned away from Bartley and then beyond Monk before steering a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
After a couple of painful defeats, Rodgers must have been savouring a chance to relax on the touchline.
There was nothing for his old club to smile about, though, as Liverpool came forward again and again.
Sturridge twice found himself one on one with Vorm, and twice the Swansea goalkeeper saved well with his legs.
But the Dutch international was left helpless again after Enrique's cross was handled by substitute Wayne Routledge.
Gerrard allowed Sturridge to take the spot-kick this time, and once again Vorm was beaten despite diving the right way.
The ex-Chelsea frontman might have grabbed his second of the day a couple of minutes later, but his 25-yard drive kissed the bar and flew into the crowd.
There was a late chance for a Swansea consolation, but Routledge's effort was repelled smartly by Reina.
A Swansea goal would not have made any difference on what was a miserable afternoon for Laudrup's team.
Yes the Dane made changes and yes Liverpool are a top club, but nobody enjoys getting demolished like this.
"It was awful," Laudrup reflected.
There were no arguments there.