Liverpool's back four consisting of four centre-backs, and ones uncomfortable at full-back at that, unsurprisingly led to them struggling to play out from the back and thus maintain possession. The first half was a drab, unspectacular affair, but in truth it was Southampton who had the better of it.
Liverpool did, however, go the closest when Steven Gerrard stepped up to hammer in a free-kick which appeared to be heading for the top corner until the intervention of Artur Boruc, pulling off a magnificent save to deny the hosts. It may have been considered a just reward, however, after they were earlier denied a penalty after Daniel Sturridge appeared to be brought down in the area by Dejan Lovren.
After a dull first half in which Victor Moses and Rickie Lambert were the only players attempting much for their respective sides, the second-half promised to be better, but not for the home side. Liverpool continued to struggle in keeping hold of the ball, and Southampton's increased pressing of their backline predictably caused problems, almost letting in Adam Lallana early on.
Yet shortly afterwards, the visitors did indeed take the lead, with some appalling marking from Daniel Agger allowing Lovren to escape and power a header goalwards from a corner, which Gerrard could only hack into the roof of his own net.
Liverpool could still not force the issue even when a goal down, and only just averted disaster moments later when Simon Mignolet had to pull off a bizarre triple save, all three being of the same shot - Luke Shaw made a bold run into the box, fortuitously held onto the ball thanks to some lucky deflections from his markers, and his fierce effort was parried by Mignolet before desperately being juggled away from any opposition follow-ups.
Oddly, and worryingly for the home side, the expected late rally and siege of the Sunderland goal did not arrive - when drawing, while trailing, and with only minutes remaining, Liverpool simply could not force any meaningful pressure on Sunderland at all. Their backline was undoubtedly a huge reason for it, but it cannot solely be blamed for their struggles. The talk of a title challenge seems highly premature on today's evidence.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Toure, Agger (Jose Enrique - 57' ), Sakho, Skrtel (Alberto - 72' ), Gerrard, Aspas (Sterling - 46' ), Moses, Henderson, Lucas, Sturridge
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Rodriguez (Cork - 89' ), Wanyama, Osvaldo, Lallana (Ward-Prowse - 76' ), Lambert (S Davis - 66' )
Goals: Lovren (58')