Swans must focus to deny Rodgers another magic Liberty moment
BRENDAN Rodgers sprinted down the touchline, tie flapping in the air as he dished out a sequence of high fives.
Arguably, it was the most exhilarating moment the Liberty Stadium has ever seen.
Two years and four months since Darren Pratley's goal secured Swansea City's place in the Championship play-off final, Rodgers returns tonight hoping for another enjoyable evening in SA1.
He has had plenty to smile about of late, for Liverpool have looked like a team on the up in the early weeks of Rodgers's second season at the helm.
But Swansea's former boss does not need to study DVDs of tonight's opponents to know that Liverpool's impeccable Premier League record is likely to come under threat.
Rodgers is well aware that Swansea can give any team in the land a tough game, particularly in their own backyard.
Think Manchester City or Arsenal during the campaign Rodgers spent leading Swansea in the Premier League.
Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United have also dropped points in these parts in the last two years, while Liverpool are yet to triumph in Landore.
Rodgers's last act as Swansea manager was a 1-0 win over the Reds in what proved to be Kenny Dalglish's final game in charge at Anfield.
And on his first return last season, Rodgers's Liverpool side went away happy enough with a goalless draw.
"I would never say a draw here is two points dropped because I know how hard it is to come and play Swansea," Rodgers said after the stalemate last November.
Presumably, therefore, he would be happy enough with another share of the spoils this time around.
Liverpool's followers may expect more, for expectations are rapidly rising on Merseyside after a fine start to the new season.
Liverpool have won three games out of three, beating Stoke on the opening day and then following that with a hard-earned success at Aston Villa.
Their last triumph was the most impressive, as Manchester United were toppled in the game Liverpool's fans love to win.
The bookmakers have Rodgers's men as slight favourites to make it 12 points from 12 tonight, but Swansea have other ideas.
The mood is bright in the Liberty's home dressing room after that much-needed victory at West Bromwich Albion before the international break.
Before going to The Hawthorns, Swansea were licking their wounds having been mauled by United on the first day of the season and then gone down a little meekly at White Hart Lane.
But they were two demanding fixtures to open up the campaign, and the Baggies were the first opponents of 2013-14 who are at Swansea's level.
A draw would have been okay in the Black Country, so Swansea's comfortable 2-0 success was a terrific result.
Now Michael Laudrup's team can relish the chance to have a crack at Liverpool rather than walking out fearing a fourth league reverse of the new campaign.
Attempting to halt the charge of the early-season league leaders will be a motivating factor for Ashley Williams and company.
So too, for the five probable starters who played under Rodgers, will be getting one over on their old boss.
If that is not enough, Swansea will also stride out this evening intent on righting the wrongs of their last meeting with Liverpool, when they were embarrassed back in February.
The good news for Swansea is that only around four members of the much-changed side which started that day are likely to make Laudrup's XI once more tonight.
And Swansea can take encouragement from their recent record against Liverpool, that 5-0 drubbing aside.
In the clubs' four other meetings since Swansea reached the Premier League, there have been two draws and two Welsh wins.
Another positive for Swansea is that Luis Suarez remains suspended after getting his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic.
That is welcome news for Laudrup's rearguard, for Suarez has been arguably the most impressive opposition player Swansea have faced since reaching the top flight.
However, Daniel Sturridge is set to feature despite a thigh injury, and the former Chelsea striker has been something of a talisman for Rodgers's team since arriving from Stamford Bridge in January.
Sturridge has five goals already this season, and 16 in just 20 appearances in the red shirt.
Clearly, he will be one to watch.
So too will the likes of Phillippe Coutinho, new recruit Victor Moses and Iago Aspas, the forward Laudrup was so keen to sign before Liverpool entered the bidding in the summer.
And then there is Steven Gerrard, king of a midfield where Rodgers's options are so good that Joe Allen is struggling to get a look-in just now.
Things appear to be coming together nicely at Liverpool under Rodgers, whose aim this season is to lead the club back into the Champions League.
And the Northern Irishman reckons Liverpool's bid for the top four will be boosted by the fact that they do not have to think about the Europa League in 2013-14.
Laudrup, by contrast, has four competitions to juggle, and the remarkable thing about the week ahead is that Liverpool is not Swansea's most eye-catching fixture.
That comes on Thursday night, when Swansea face Valencia.
Tongues have been wagging about the prospect of a trip to the Mestalla ever since the draw was made last month.
In the stands and in the dressing room, anticipation of Spain reigns.
Yet Laudrup will stress to his players the need to focus first on Liverpool.
"The only way to do it is to take one game at a time," said the Swansea manager.
"And it is not just words when I say that. There was only one time last season when I was thinking more about the second game than the first one played.
"It was at Liverpool before the Capital One Cup final, and we lost thta game 5-0."
The memory of that reverse should ensure minds do not drift tonight.