LIVERPOOL - Brendan Rodgers knows he faces a huge task to successfully replace Steven Gerrard after leaving the Liverpool captain out of his team's starting line-up for the 0-0 draw with Sunderland at Anfield.
Reds boss Rodgers was left to rue his decision to rest Gerrard on Saturday in order to have the former England midfielder fully fit for Tuesday's vital Champions League clash with Basel.
It was a move that followed on from resting Gerrard eight days earlier, when Liverpool laboured to beat Stoke City 1-0, and, on this occasion, Rodgers was forced to use his talismanic midfielder as a substitute after 67 minutes as his team attempted to record what would have been a third consecutive league victory.
Instead, they were left frustrated and Liverpool fans were left to wonder what life will be like for their team should Gerrard reject the one-year, rolling contract that is currently on offer from his boyhood club.
"That's something we're looking for but it's very hard to replace that quality," Rodgers said.
"Certainly it's something we need to find - a player of that stature, that quality.
"He's still got that talent and world-class ability. At this stage of his career, it's up to me to manage that in order for him to play games. Going forward, that is something we will look for.
"We have a big month in December, there's a lot of big games. I felt the management of Steven is fine, there's no problem with that. But we can't always rely on him.
"The contribution has to come from throughout the team - he can't be the catalyst every single game and of course he plays on Tuesday now."
Gerrard's occasional absence is in no way as damaging as their failure to replace Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, sold to Barcelona in the close-season, or the constantly injured Daniel Sturridge.
With those pair no longer scoring at will for Liverpool, they have only scored seven league goals in as many home games this season.
"The players are giving their all, they are giving everything they have," said Rodgers.
"Maybe most teams come here a bit deeper and you have to give credit to Sunderland, they defended well.
"But that is where the team is at. We're a different team to last year, different players at the top end of the field. Players like Rickie Lambert are giving their all and working very hard.
"The supporters are used to seeing goals and creativity but it's a different team with different players. We have to continue to work hard and that is what we'll do."
Admirable as the Sunderland showing may have been, they have goal concerns of their own with the team averaging less than a goal a game this season and manager Gus Poyet admits the answer may lie in a renewed January bid for Liverpool's Fabio Borini, who was on loan with the Wearsiders last term.
"It's difficult to say. He was the answer last year but we couldn't get him in the summer," said Poyet.
"We will see what happens. I would love to but the bottom line is he is not with us and we have to concentrate on what we've got.
"We were quite good today. In the Premier League, a point is difficult, three points is massive so have to make sure that of our next three or four games, we win two or three."