New signing Philippe Coutinho marked his Liverpool debut with a goal as an understrength Swansea City side with one eye on a Wembley final next week put up little fight at Anfield. The 20-year-old scored the important second moments after the break following Steven Gerrard's first-half penalty.
Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, also from the spot, finished off the visitors who rarely looked interested in, or capable of, making a contest of it.
Brendan Rodgers, facing the club he left in the summer for the third time this season, began the week talking up what an important seven days lay ahead. But after a home defeat to West Bromwich Albion and one against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Europa League this game took on even more significance.
Physically unintimidating, with a bigger prize on offer in seven days' time, Swansea were also the perfect team for the slight and youthful-looking Coutinho to make his first appearance since an £8.5m move from Inter Milan late last month.
Swans boss Michael Laudrup, with his thoughts on next weekend's League Cup final, did his predecessor a huge favour by naming a weakened side, selecting only four from the line-up who beat QPR 4-1 last week and leaving out 15-goal striker Michu, captain Ashley Williams and Nathan Dyer.
Kemy Agustien's unnecessary challenge on Suarez close to the touchline brought about the opener, with the assistant referee immediately flagged for a penalty. Gerrard, having failed from the spot in front of the Kop against West Brom, went for the opposite corner and succeeded in beating Michel Vorm for Liverpool's first goal.
Swansea had shown little threat in the opening 45 minutes and any ideas they may have had about staging a comeback were snuffed out within ten minutes of the restart. In truth, the 16 seconds it took the 20-year-old Coutinho to skip through the visitors' defence and beat Vorm was all that was required. However, a well-worked goal saw Enrique poke home Sturridge's pass before Suarez went past both Swansea's centre-backs to fire home the fourth.
The Reds ploughed forward almost at will with Swansea seemingly powerless to stop them or provide any effective response of their own. After being denied on multiple occasions, Sturridge finally got his goal but only courtesy of the generosity of Gerrard who relinquished penalty duties when substitute Wayne Routledge handled.
Liverpool, who finished with ten men after third and final substitute Fabio Borini went off with a painful-looking shoulder injury, have now scored 17 goals in their last five home games with only the two conceded against West Brom spoiling a perfect run at Anfield. With this win they moved to within nine points of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.