When it was announced Liverpool Women would be joining the men's squad on their pre-season tour of the United States last summer it felt not only like a moment of unification but a significant step in the right direction.

It couldn't have came at a better time, either.

England were preparing to face off with the US in the World Cup semi-finals, the nation gripped by women's football with viewing figures off the charts and more girls taking up the sport than ever before.

But fast forward less than 12 months and the two Liverpool teams could not be in more contrasting positions.

On Friday, it was confirmed Vicky Jepson's side - who sat at the foot of the Women's Super League with six points from 14 games upon the suspension of football in March - would be relegated into the Women's Championship.

An unweighted points-per-game decision was agreed upon, and despite being just one point off Birmingham City with eight games to contest, Liverpool were brutally dropped out of the top flight.

It feels cruel. A statement from the club echoed the overall feeling of disappointment.

Meanwhile, just an hour later the men's team's road to Premier League glory was placed firmly back on course with dates and times for games against Everton, Manchester City and Crystal Palace all confirmed.

The stark difference in the fortunes of the two sides was laid bare.

It does not feel long ago that Jepson led her side off the plane alongside Jurgen Klopp and his Champions League winners. Yet, in many respects, it's now a world away.

On touchdown in South Bend, Indiana, the two managers were pictured smiling alongside squad captains Jordan Henderson and Sophie Bradley-Auckland.

The unification of the tour was welcomed by fans, and helped promote Liverpool's two teams, one club ethos.

In August, the squads posed for a collective 2019/20 team photograph at Melwood.

This, another marker of unity and equality laid down.

Liverpool FC and Liverpool FC Women squad photo 2019

But there is no escaping the fact this would prove a rare trip to Liverpool's training base for the women, who currently do their fitness work and match preparation at Tranmere Rovers' Solar Campus on the Wirral.

When Liverpool eventually move into their £50million purpose-built training complex at Kirkby in the coming months, the fear among some is that the women are being left behind.

The club's current plans are to unite the Academy with the senior set-up with the women set to continue to train elsewhere.

The move has left the club open to criticism. Especially given, across the city, Everton's women's squad have been training alongside the men at Finch Farm for several years, a move that continues to pay dividends for Willie Kirk's side.

Everton finished in sixth place, helped by a notable hard-fought triumph at Anfield in November.

The announcement Liverpool Women would play at the home of the men's team - and take part in the first women's derby played at Anfield - offered a huge morale boost after a difficult start to the campaign.

Rhiannon Roberts before the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on November 17, 2019

Instead of their usual set-up at Prenton Park, they would be walking out to be greeted by thousands of fans singing You'll Never Walk Alone to them.

A dream come true, with 23,000 watching on as Kirk's Blues ran out 1-0 winners.

This was another step in the right direction, and proved the appetite for the women's game is there. And the club must now commit to keep on tapping into that burgeoning market.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have shown themselves willing to make progressive moves in the past. One came in 2017 with the landmark announcement that cosmetics brand Avon were set to become the side's first independent shirt sponsor.

It's important to also remember that since FSG's arrival in 2010, it was the women who brought the first taste of top-flight success to the club having been crowned back-to-back champions in 2013 and 2014.

Must-read Liverpool FC news

Now, as the men prepare to regain their perch, the women should view their next step as an opportunity as much as a challenge, a chance for review and revival.

Jepson's side deserve greater backing as they plot their renaissance. And it would at the very least alleviate the criticism the club have been receiving.

There is no time to waste, with star players such as forward Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Scotland international Christie Murray and goalkeepers Anke Preuss and Fran Kitching having all waved their goodbyes in recent weeks. The new season is rumoured to begin in September.

Liverpool, having had a women's team wearing the club crest since 1994, have acquired a tradition, a proud 26-year history.

Yes, relegation hurts. Yes, it feels unjust. But Liverpool can now help the women harness that pain and injustice - and start a brave new era.