Sir Alex Ferguson shrugged off Manchester United's 4-1 defeat by Liverpool as "just one of those days" and insisted his side's drive to retain the Premier League title would not be derailed.
"It is a hard one to take because I thought, really, we were the better team and the score does not reflect that," Ferguson claimed. "But of course when you win 4-1 at Old Trafford you deserve all the plaudits and you can't deny them that, but if the league was starting today, you would take a four-point start."
The defeat cut United's lead at the top of the table to four points, although a game in hand gives them an additional edge over Liverpool, who may have to win all nine of their remaining matches to have any chance of overhauling the champions.
United's fate was sealed largely as a result of Nemanja Vidic's mistakes. The Serbian centreback gifted Fernando Torres an equaliser after Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty had given United the lead and then got himself sent off for a professional foul on Steven Gerrard quarter of an hour from the end.
Gerrard had put Liverpool ahead from the spot just before the break and Fabio Aurelio scored from the free-kick that resulted from Vidic's foul before Andrea Dossena completed the rout in stoppage time.
"It was a bad day in terms of the goals we lost but I couldn't argue with the quality of play that much," Ferguson said. "One or two players were a little bit short today in terms of what we expect of them but I do know the football was good, we kept driving on and they showed good energy, even though we only had two and a half days to prepare for the match. Now the thing is to respond. It always is at this club, you lose a game and you respond. We always do."
For Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, Liverpool's biggest win at United since 1936 capped a hugely satisfying week following the 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League in midweek.
"We knew that we had to win," Benitez said. "It was very difficult after conceding a goal but we had to go forward, try and believe we could win and we had the quality to do it. It was difficult at the beginning but after 30 minutes we started playing better and little by little we were controlling the game."
Benitez believes Liverpool will have to come close to winning all of their remaining matches and hope United slip up badly. "It will be difficult but at least we have more optimism now and we can stay closer to them. You never know what can happen in football but we know how much experience and quality United have in their squad."
Gerrard also acknowledged that Liverpool would need a bit of luck if they are to claim their first English title since 1990, but that did not stop him savouring the victory. "I've been lucky enough to win here before but to score as well is a great feeling," he said. "After the stick I've had from United fans over the last ten years it was nice to score and rub it in a bit.
"It's magnificent. It was a great team performance. From front to back we worked very hard. We showed great character to come from a goal down. They had a man sent off but even 11 v 11 we played like men. We controlled the game. It was a very comfortable win. It's not very often you see Manchester United get beaten 4-1 at home."
Torres said clinical finishing had been the key to Liverpool's stunning success. "We scored all the chances, that is the secret," he said. "We are in the title race again. We have to keep going and maybe United can lose more points."