Trent Alexander-Arnold was told in no uncertain terms it simply wasn’t good enough.
Mere moments into the match at Selhurst Park on Saturday, the Liverpool right-back ventured upfield only to be dispossessed near the edge of the Crystal Palace penalty area.
Rather than immediately sprint back into position, however, Alexander-Arnold broke into a brief jog before swiftly picking up the pace after being on the receiving end of a stern directive from skipper Jordan Henderson.
It encapsulated a difficult first half for the defender, who, during a 20-minute spell of Palace pressure, was continually exposed by the pace of both Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze.
Hardly the ideal start to a landmark 150th Liverpool appearance.
But it continued a trend in recent weeks – certainly away from home – with Alexander-Arnold having struggled badly at Fulham the previous weekend and replaced midway through the second half.
It hasn’t been the easiest of campaigns for the 22-year-old, despite his pride at being made captain for the recent Champions League dead rubber at FC Midtjylland.
He was absent for a chunk of pre-season and, having then rediscovered some form, he was struck by a calf problem that sidelined him for much of November.
At international level, he remains far from a starting certainty under England boss Gareth Southgate, who now leans towards Reece James and Kieran Trippier.
But further analysis of Alexander-Arnold’s performance at Palace paints a different picture.
Even before Henderson’s lambasting, the defender had played the pass into the area for Sadio Mane to then set up the early opener for Takumi Minamino.
It was Alexander-Arnold whose ball out of the right-back position allowed Roberto Firmino to continue the devastating counter-attack for the third goal, and the defender assisted Henderson to strike the fourth.
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And his clever pass down the right released Mohamed Salah to set up Firmino for the fifth before his corner from the right was headed on by Joel Matip for Salah to score.
Only Henderson touched the ball more often, while Andy Robertson was the only Liverpool player with more key passes.
Yes, Alexander-Arnold hasn’t been at his best this term, particularly defensively. Given the chopping and changing in the Liverpool defence, and the absences disrupting his own rhythm, that’s perhaps understandable.
There is, though, a reason why he remains such an important part of Jurgen Klopp’s side, a key figure in the attacking play of a team beginning to show its teeth once more. Selhurst Park saw witness to that.