Manchester United manager David Moyes was given the perfect tonic to soothe the pain of Sunday's loss to Manchester City as a largely second-string side gave him a pleasing selection headache against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Moyes made eight changes to face their arch-rivals in the League Cup third round, but those who had been waiting in the wings took their chance and battled to a 1-0 win, showing the fight missing during the weekend's Premier League defeat.
United striker Javier Hernandez scored the only goal of the game with a typical poacher's finish, losing his marker before side-footing the ball home from close range in the second half. "We had to try and come out and show something a bit better than we had done," Moyes told Sky Sports.
"We had to bounce back and I thought it was a good result tonight. It's given me a chance to see some players I haven't seen much and it's given me food for thought."
Among those given a first chance to impress were Jonny Evans, who kept Liverpool's attacking duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge under wraps. Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa was handed his second start of the season and came into the match after the interval, rattling the top of the bar with a shot from distance.
Liverpool welcomed back striker Suarez after he had served a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season. He took his time getting into the tie and looked off the pace as the early tackles flew in.
A neat reverse pass from the Uruguayan found Sturridge on 19 minutes but the England forward could only stab his effort wide, while the returning frontman's own control let him down two minutes later. Jose Enrique found Suarez with a crossfield ball, but his first touch was heavy and United keeper David De Gea smothered at his feet.
He did strike the woodwork with a free kick in the second half, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expects him soon to regain the sharpness that brought 23 league goals last season.
"I thought Luis Suarez was excellent," Rodgers said. "You could tell he'd been out for a long time as he tired at the end. But he's obviously a threat. I think adrenaline gets you over the line in the first game. But he's a fighter. He's so determined and will get ready for the weekend." United face Norwich City at home in the next round with the tie scheduled to be played in the week beginning October 28.