London - Liverpool's half-baked pre-season transfer dealings have come back to bite them with Brendan Rodgers admitting his side have lacked the quality to finish in the Premier League's top four.
Monday's tepid 1-0 defeat by relegation-threatened Hull City left Liverpool in fifth place and all but ended their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
That represents a sharp decline from last season when the goals of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge propelled the club to within a whisker of a a first English league title since 1991.
Rodgers was powerless to stop Uruguayan Suarez joining Barcelona for £75 million and has been unlucky to be deprived of Sturridge through injury, but the manager must take some of the blame for failing to invest his sizeable war chest on players capable of taking the club forward.
"We have to look to improve the squad again which every big club will do," a deflated Rodgers said after the Hull defeat.
"For fans and players it's great to get those marquee players - and there are maybe one or two we need."
Supporters are asking why those marquee signings did not arrive last summer when Liverpool could have built on the momentum they established last season.
Chile's Alexis Sanchez was on Liverpool's radar but moved to Arsenal. Instead Rodgers splashed out £50 million on Southampton trio Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren.
Midfielder Lallana has impressed after recovering from a knee injury but striker Lambert and defender Lovren have looked out of their depth.
Mario Balotelli joined from Milan for £16 million but the Italy striker has shown only fleeting glimpses of his best form, registering more yellow cards (seven) than goals (four).
Left back Alberto Moreno, signed from Sevilla, has probably been Rodgers's best business but the jury is still out on Emre Can and Lazar Markovic.
Captain Steven Gerrard's departure to the MLS will create another hole in the Liverpool squad, while England forward Raheem Sterling's reluctance to sign a new contract is a headache for Rodgers who faces a major re-building job.
The most damning statistic this season has been Liverpool's lack of firepower. Suarez and Sturridge scored 53 league goals between them last season as Liverpool notched up 101.
With four games left they have managed a paltry 47.
No wonder Rodgers is on the lookout for strikers with PSV Eindhoven's Memphis Depay top of the list of players being linked with a move to Anfield.
"The kid is obviously a very talented player," Rodgers said.
"It is clear we need a goal threat for next season."