Liverpool were in rampant mood as they powered to a 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Brendan Rodgers' 100th match in charge.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with just eight minutes on the clock at White Hart Lane, converting from close range after excellent build-up play between Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson had dissected the home defence.
Steven Gerrard made it 2-0 from the spot shortly after the break, netting from 12 yards to become the Reds' most successful penalty taker of all time with 43.
Alberto Moreno furthered the advantage with a stunning solo effort, charging forward from deep before arrowing a left-footed drive into the far corner with an hour gone.
There were chances to increase the lead - not least when Sterling skipped his way through only to prod tamely at goal - as Liverpool signed off for the international break in emphatic fashion.
The pre-match team news confirmed a debut for Balotelli, with the striker lining up alongside Sturridge and Sterling in attack.
Elsewhere, injuries to Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel meant starting berths for Javier Manquillo and Mamadou Sakho at the back.
Kick off signified Rodgers' century of matches at the helm, coming at the scene of one of the finest performances of his tenure.
Last season's corresponding fixture had ended 5-0 in favour of Liverpool - and there were just two minutes on the clock when the visitors almost made a dream start.
Sturridge's brilliant delivery from the left picked out the head of Balotelli, whose powerful downward header was repelled by Hugo Lloris.
The Reds didn't have to wait long to break the deadlock, however, as moments later, Sturridge's pass found Henderson's run into the area. He in turn slipped a ball across the face of goal, allowing Sterling to slot home at the back post.
That goal equalled the club record of netting in 16 consecutive away league matches, set between May 1987 and March 1988.
And Liverpool were looking dangerous in the sunshine, with Sturridge's edge-of-the-box drive had Lloris scrambling across his line soon after.
Next, a pinpoint in-swinging free-kick from Steven Gerrard again found the head of Balotelli, who glanced wide at the far post.
At the other end, an excellent recovery challenge by Dejan Lovren prevented Emmanuel Adebayor from getting a run at Simon Mignolet's goal after Sakho had conceded possession inside his own half.
Back came the Reds and after Sturridge had tested Lloris from range, the goalkeeper's wayward clearance found Balotelli 40 yards out, but he couldn't direct it into the unguarded net with his first-time effort.
Three minutes before the break, Liverpool had Mignolet to thank for keeping their lead intact when a long ball forward bounced through for Nacer Chadli, but his blast was beaten over the bar by the custodian.
It would prove a crucial moment as shortly after the re-start, Rodgers' side were handed the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot after Joe Allen was brought down in the area by Eric Dier.
Gerrard stepped up to do the honours, and duly netted to make it 2-0 and in the process become the club's highest scoring penalty taker of all time with 43 successful conversions, surpassing Jan Molby's long-standing record.
It also meant he was the first Reds player in history to score in 16 successive seasons.
And the visitors weren't finished as Moreno added a third on the hour, powering down the left from deep and sweetly striking across Lloris and into the far corner.
Sturridge and Lovren then tried their luck before Sterling was left holding his head in his hands after dancing beyond three Spurs defenders in the box before scuffing his shot when a goal-of-the-season contender appeared inevitable.
A fourth goal didn't arrive, but three goals, three points and a scintillating attacking performance made for an afternoon's work to savour for Liverpool.