Centre-backs really are optional when you boast this kind of blistering firepower.
Liverpool made light of their defensive crisis as they maintained their thrilling resurgence on the South Coast.
No Joel Matip, no Ragnar Klavan, no Joe Gomez, no problem. Brighton were put to the sword on their own patch as they felt the full force of Jurgen Klopp's jet-heeled attack.
If November was the Mohamed Salah show, this time the Reds danced to a Samba beat.
On an afternoon when Sadio Mane put his feet up, it was the Brazilian double act of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho who ran riot.
After Emre Can's thumping header, Firmino finished off two scintillating counter-attacks to kill off the dogged Seagulls.
The hosts got the sympathy vote from hapless referee Graham Scott with the penalty which enabled Glenn Murray to reduce the deficit from the spot.
But Liverpool finished with a flourish as Coutinho marked his finest performance of the season with a moment of real genius.
As Brighton's wall jumped in an attempt to block his free-kick, he nonchalantly rolled it under them.
The little magician then had the final word, completing the rout as his late strike was turned into his own net by Lewis Dunk.
Liverpool have proved they can win without Coutinho this season but here was a reminder of why the owners fought so hard to keep him when Barcelona refused to take no for an answer last summer.
Brighton only conceded three goals in the whole of November but they were left chasing shadows as Coutinho got out his box of tricks and tormented them. They couldn't lay a glove on him.
The Reds haven't packed this kind of punch going forward since their title challenge of 2013-14.
Remarkably, they have won their last three away Premier League matches by a combined score of 12-2.
Since the abject defeat to Spurs in October, Liverpool have won six and drawn two of their eight matches in all competitions, scoring 25 and conceding just six. They have taken 16 points out of a possible 18 to re-ignite their top-four challenge.
That's all the more impressive considering Klopp's policy of rotating in order to cope with a gruelling schedule.
There were six changes following the midweek win at Stoke and Kopites will have spent the opening exchanges at the Amex Stadium rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
With Matip injured, Gomez ill and Klavan still recovering from a virus, Dejan Lovren was the only centre-back left standing.
It was clear from the team sheet that Emre Can would be pressed into duty alongside him, but the element of surprise arrived with the sight of fellow midfielder Gini Wijnaldum joining them in a makeshift three-man backline.
Can hadn't started a game at centre-back since Brendan Rodgers' reign, while Wijnaldum hadn't played there in his entire career.
It wasn't something that Liverpool had worked on at Melwood, it was simply a case of needs must. To his credit, the Dutchman settled after a tough start and coped well with the cards he was dealt.
Can and Wijnaldum were helped by another highly encouraging performance from Dejan Lovren, who has battled back well from his personal nightmare at Wembley.
With Liverpool down to the bare bones defensively, Klopp needed the Croatian to be a leader and he didn't disappoint.
The Reds got away with having such a makeshift backline on this occasion, but to find themselves in such a position underlined the folly of not buying another centre-back last summer.
Whether they can convince Southampton to sell them Virgil van Dijk or not, it's an area of the squad which simply must be addressed in January.
Thankfully, Klavan and Gomez should both be back available for the crunch Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.
Brighton went into the contest with the sixth best defensive record in the top-flight and for half an hour they made life difficult for the Reds.
Klopp's men dominated possession and territory but struggled to find a way through the mass of striped shirts in front of them. Patience was required.
Coutinho's cross deflected into the path of Salah early on but the angle was tight and Mathew Ryan made the block.
Firmino nodded Coutinho's corner over before narrowly failing to convert a quality delivery from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The teenager shone down the right with Andy Robertson, making his first appearance for three months, justifying his inclusion on the other flank.
Unsurprisingly given the personnel on duty, Liverpool creaked at times defensively. Wijnaldum's sloppy pass played them into trouble but he quickly atoned for that error, doing enough to put off Murray after the lone frontman had latched on to Izzy Brown's cross.
Klopp cut an increasingly agitated figure on the touchline but his mood was transformed as the Reds raised the bar and struck twice in the space of 80 seconds.
Can broke the deadlock as he climbed highest to power home a header from Coutinho's corner. It was his first Premier League goal of the season.
The second was a beauty as Firmino laid it off to Salah close to halfway and Liverpool burst forward in numbers.
Salah picked out Coutinho, who crossed perfectly for Firmino to convert from close range.
Three minutes after the break it was 3-0. Mignolet did brilliantly to thwart Murray and after Lovren hacked clear, the Reds countered again in breathtaking fashion.
Coutinho and Firmino combined to find Salah. The Egyptian intelligently teed up Firmino, who smashed it past Ryan. As half the team celebrated with the Brazilian, the rest raced to embrace Mignolet for his crucial save.
With Salah taking all the plaudits, Firmino's contribution has gone under the radar somewhat. With 11 goals, he's only one behind his tally for the whole of last season.
His work ethic is so key to Liverpool's success and he's also chipped in with five assists.
Briefly, Liverpool wobbled. Jordan Henderson was hardly adjudged to have shoved Shane Duffy and Murray netted from the spot.
Memories of Seville were suddenly vivid and the home fans sensed that all was not lost.
But this time there was no panic. Alexander-Arnold produced a goal-saving block to deny substitute Jose Izquierdo as the Reds dealt with a mini revival before hitting them with a Coutinho inspired show of force.
With the visit of Spartak followed by the Merseyside derby, it's a huge week ahead for Liverpool. Klopp's great entertainers have momentum on their side.
Source: Liverpool Echo
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