Even after a second string Liverpool XI scraped to a narrow 2-1 victory at Southampton on Tuesday evening, a fortunate Joel Matip goal just enough for Jurgen Klopp's huge gamble to pay off, the feeling was not particularly positive.
It was as if Liverpool were being praised for their fight, congratulated for pushing Manchester City all the way; as if the title was already over.
That is not necessarily true. Aston Villa are 14/1 to win and 7/1 to draw, with Manchester City an incredible 1/7 to get the three points and therefore the title (Liverpool are 9/2 to win the title), but this really doesn't seem like a fair reflection of the situation.
Man City have dropped points in two of their last five Premier League matches at the Etihad, while Villa battled very well in an unlucky 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture in December.
And that's before considering the unique circumstances of final day nerves (Brighton went 1-0 up within five minutes in the final-day title race of 2018/19) and the fact Steven Gerrard has the chance to help Liverpool to the league title in front of a packed Anfield. This time, it could be Man City who slip.
Here's a look at how and why Villa can create a dramatic finale on Sunday.
Villa's front two to hit high line
The best way to beat Man City is to sit deep and wait for chances to counter-attack behind Pep Guardiola's high defensive line, which is something West Ham United did very successfully last weekend in a 2-2 draw. David Moyes tweaked his usual system to get Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio making central runs on the shoulder in tandem.
Gerrard's diamond 4-4-2 already has two strikers doing just that, and there is certainly risk for Man City that Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins can break a defensive line weakened by injuries. City look a lot more vulnerable without Kyle Walker's recovery pace, plus Fernandinho was out-battled repeatedly by Antonio. Villa will expect to get a couple of attackers in on goal fairly often.
The chances of this are heightened, compared to the reverse fixture, by the presence of Philippe Coutinho. He can float dangerously at the tip of that midfield diamond and find space on the outside of Rodri to get on the ball and set the front two away.
Narrow midfield can block City playmakers
Onto the defensive part, and this is where Villa may be in trouble. They aren't as secure as West Ham and have been known to look a little too spread out under Gerrard, leaving gaps as they try to pass out from the back and continuing to look error prone while Tyrone Mings leads the defence.
But the simplicity of the tactical method to be deployed should sharpen minds, allowing Villa to focus on staying compact and blocking the space.
That was definitely the case at Villa Park, where it took a wonder goal from Bernardo Silva to settle a competitive game in which the Villa midfield fought aggressively in the tackle to break up the play and slow City down - limiting them to an xG of just 1.02. In fact, Villa's diamond midfield is nice and narrow, blocking the very passing lanes that City love to use.
There won't be much space for Silva or Kevin de Bruyne with four men narrowly behind the ball, and with Marvelous Nakamba back from injury the visitors can expect to snap into challenges in their own third.
Much rests on the energy of John McGinn getting across to help Lucas Digne defend against De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez on the right - although by and large there isn't much danger in allowing City the ball on the wings. There is no striker in the box to outmanoeuvre Mings and Ezri Konsa.
Cash runs could test Zinchenko
Should Villa's shape successfully frustrate Man City, making a fractured game defined by sideways passing from an increasingly angsty home team, then we won't see many occasions of the full-backs getting forward. However, the movement of Ings and Watkins will look to win throw-ins that get Villa up the pitch, and from there Matty Cash could become a key player.
Whether it's Oleksandar Zinchenko or Nathan Ake at left-back, this is Man City's weakest spot and probably Villa's strongest; Cash has just been voted as fans' player of the year after another energetic season running up and down the right flank. His ability to burst into the final third late in a move has helped him to six goal contributions in the league this season.
This title race is not over yet. Should a full-strength Liverpool get three points against a Wolverhampton Wanderers team on a six-game winless run - which they surely will - then there is more of a chance than people seem to think of Liverpool completing a domestic treble.