Let's begin with the football; it's been too little talked about of late. This was an afternoon in which Manchester United answered questions in a manner that has become their standard, the reason why momentum is with them in the title chase.
Confronted by a Liverpool side that evicted them from the FA Cup two weeks ago, United were dominant, deserving of a score line more comprehensive than the one-goal margin they finished with. Sir Alex Ferguson's men attacked from the off, ceaseless in their attempts to break down the visitors' sterile, counter-attacking strategy.
United's reward came shortly into the second half when Wayne Rooney completed two impressive finishes in a 167-second interval.
His first was a vicious right-foot volley of an attempted Jordan Henderson clearance that turned into a perfect near-post flick-on. The second, steered in with the left boot after Antonio Valencia picked Jay Spearing's pocket.
Though Liverpool recovered half the deficit when the man Old Trafford least wanted to score exploited Rio Ferdinand's penalty-box gaffe, three points remained with the only team that truly tried to win them, United's reward a return to the summit of the Premier League and another dose of pressure on a buckling Manchester City.
Before all this, though, came the afternoon's ugliness.
Starting his first match since serving an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Patrice Evra, the still-indignant Luis Suarez decided to ignore explicit instructions to shake his victim's hand before kick off.
Evra, who had offered his own hand as the Uruguayan approached, was understandably infuriated. United's captain, first in the line of opponents Suarez was expected to recognise, grabbed at an individual who had repeatedly insulted him at Anfield some four months previously, but did not manage to force a handshake.
Within a minute of kick off Evra charged into tackle as Suarez leaned into the back of Ferdinand, leaving the two defenders clashing painfully and creating an opportunity for Steven Gerrard to lay on a goal. Fortunately, for the referee, Liverpool's captain over hit his through ball. That was not to be the end of it.
On the half-time whistle, Suarez leathered a ball towards the dugouts, almost catching his own manager in the face. As United players petitioned Phil Dowd to take action, the Old Trafford tunnel turned into a conflict zone, police and stewards required to shepherd players into their dressing rooms some four minutes later.
To the stadium's disdain, it was to be Suarez that offered Liverpool hope of an equaliser with an 80th-minute goal - his finish calmly taken after Ferdinand had misread the flight of a Charlie Adam free kick. David de Gea then palmed away a swirling Glen Johnson strike, and Suarez, from an offside position, missed a free header, as United counted down to the final whistle.
When it came, Evra made the most of the moment. Dancing down his touchline, smile spread wide across his even features, the left-back leapt into Ferdinand's arms. He then threw his own to the sky, urging Old Trafford to celebrate louder.
Bouncing up and down the pitch, Evra's celebrating carried him across the bows of an exiting Suarez, drawing a warning from Dowd and the ire of several Liverpool players.
Suarez, to some belated credit, ignored the provocation and departed towards Liverpool's dressing room. Again, a Liverpool hierarchy who had brought censure upon the club in their sustained defence of Suarez's October actions, were placed in undesirable position.
Having promised that Suarez "will shake the hand of Patrice Evra and the other Manchester United players before the game" in its build-up, Kenny Dalglish was left protesting that he had not seen the snub to Evra and did not know what had happened during the interval. "We'll ask him and we'll take it from there," said Liverpool's manager.
Ferguson told his fellow Scot exactly where he should take the matter.
"I could not believe it, I just could not believe it," said Ferguson.
"He's a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club, that certain player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again.
"The history that club's got and he does that, and in a situation like today could have caused a riot. I was really disappointed in that guy, it was terrible what he did. It created a tension, you've seen the referee didn't know what to do about it. It caught him off guard. It was a terrible start to the game, a terrible atmosphere it created."
Terrible, and unnecessary. Perhaps Liverpool had fostered Suarez's misguided sense of injustice by attempting to depict the English Football Association's stand against racism as a vilification of their club. It is definitely time for them to end it.