Liverpool's task heading into this season was clear, if incredibly difficult.

Pick up where you left off, somehow pick up even more points than last year and pray Manchester City win a few less games.

What actually happened over the course of the campaign though, was something quite different.

The Reds are on track to collect a couple more points than last season (they could yet land on 104), while Manchester City could get 20-odd points fewer.

Jurgen Klopp would never admit it, but his focus will already have switched to next season. The remaining six matches of the campaign are a chance to get an advantage over the rest of the division, by treating that period as pre-season.

Records matter, but trophies matter more, and Liverpool know the importance of starting a season in flying form: this year, they have been top of the table since day one, never relinquishing top spot, as City slipped up early on.

Next season's challenge, though, of retaining the Premier League title, is even more difficult - and Liverpool are set to enter the unknown.

Despite not having collected the trophy last season, the Reds essentially performed at a title-winning standard, and so have already put together back-to-back title-winning seasons, even if the history books don't show it. History suggests that it is almost impossible to string together three.

Speaking on the Debrief, live on the Blood Red YouTube channel after the clash at the Etihad Stadium, Matt Addison said: "I said heading into the match that this was an important game in terms of the narrative for Liverpool.

"We know Liverpool have been far better than Manchester City this year, but I think when we start previewing next season, people will say, even though Liverpool could win the league by a record margin, ‘that’s a reminder of what City can do and maybe the gap wasn’t quite as big...’

"I’m not sure whether that is an accurate picture. Liverpool have been significantly better, certainly defensively, and OK on the night they didn't show it, but if you take the season as a whole rather than one-off nights such as this, then that paints a fuller picture.

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"Going into next season, it was always going to be difficult for Liverpool because they have sustained it now for two seasons.

"They got 97 points last season, and didn’t quite win the league, but have effectively performed as league title-winning level for two consecutive seasons and it’s very rare that we have seen any team do that for three.

"Manchester United are the only team to win the Premier League three times in a row and they didn’t have to get anywhere near that number of points back in those days.

"Liverpool are entering unknown territory with the level they will have to continue to be at, but Liverpool always knew next season was everyone starting again at zero points.

"It’s going to be very difficult for Liverpool to retain their title - that’s hardly a shock."

In fact, no team has ever won four consecutive first division titles. Huddersfield Town (1923–26), Arsenal (1932–35), Liverpool (1981–84) and Manchester United (twice: 1998–01; 2006–09) have all managed three, as the Reds will effectively be aiming for again.

But on none of those occasions was a points total of around 100 points required.

Manchester United collected 90 points in 2008/09, but beat Liverpool to the title by four points and so could have finished on 87 and still been crowned champions. And that was the highest points tally of any team who has won three on the spin.

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If Liverpool are to retain their maiden title - and effectively produce a title-winning performance for the third consecutive campaign - then are going to have to achieve a level of world-class consistency that no team has ever reached before.

After two near-100-point seasons, another might be required. Even if not, by winning the title again next year, Liverpool would be joining an exclusive club.