Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City in the FA Cup was not a game that most people would remember in too much detail from last season, but it was one in which Jürgen Klopp performed an interesting experiment.
For a short spell, Roberto Firmino — often injured in the previous campaign and playing a reduced role even when fit — was deployed in a different position, though not one that was completely alien to him.
Firmino was always a number 10 for his previous club, Hoffenheim, so when Klopp asked him to drop a little deeper again and perform the left-sided number eight position in midfield, it would not have been that difficult for a player as intelligent as the 30-year-old to adapt.
Against a lesser side — hence the experiment being against Cardiff, rather than, say Manchester City — it makes sense to have another creative player in the team anyway.
Firmino was able to float around and spray passes, progressing the ball into dangerous positions with Luis Díaz looking lively in front of him and Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones also impressing on the day.
Cardiff did not particularly test him defensively and Liverpool were not out of possession for long spells at a time, cruising to a win at Anfield and progression into the fifth round of the competition they would go on to win.
But there are reasons to believe that Firmino could cope in slightly more strenuous circumstances — against a lower-placed Premier League side, for instance. He is, after all, arguably the most intelligent presser the Reds have.
Additionally, with Firmino in midfield, it is not that different to switching to 4-2-3-1 and having the Brazilian as the number 10 — something that plenty of people are keen for Liverpool to try.
The subtle difference, though, is that you can have that benefit (of having Firmno deeper, and also getting more creativity and not using another midfielder in the role if they need a rest or are injured) without changing the formation at all and risking altering the team’s balance.
It is not something that Liverpool will do most weeks. Against Cardiff, it was only 11 minutes before Klopp moved Firmino further forward again, replacing Takumi Minamino with James Milner and switching things around, but he had also played a similar deeper role in Premier League matches with Tottenham and Leicester.
While he might not do it often, Firmino could have a new role next season perhaps more frequently than he did last. Should he remain fit for longer, and with four players in attack ahead of him in the pecking order, it might just make sense.
Liverpool won’t be signing a midfield stop-gap this summer, but they might actually already have one on their books for when they really need one.