Liverpool managed to get themselves four new signings wrapped up early on this summer, but with the exception of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, the new arrivals seem to be brought in to bolster the squad depth rather than improve the first XI.
Mignolet, along with Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Kolo Toure, were all signed before the start of July, while it was then expected that the Reds would move for their preferred first XI signings.
Going by the frequency and perceived reliability of most of the rumours for Liverpool's summer targets, there are a number of players who could relatively safely be identified as the Reds' first-choice signings.
The Reds were, and remain, known to want to bring in a central defender and an attacking midfielder, as per Brendan Rodgers' comments on the official club website, while a powerful central midfielder and, quite possibly, a full-back were also on the agenda.
A widely reported first-choice target of the Reds was Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Liverpool were thought to be close to signing the former Shakhtar Donetsk man, as per the BBC, having indicated they would pay the figure needed to release him from his contract in the Ukraine. However, on Tuesday the same media outlet announced that Mkhitaryan had opted to join Borussia Dortmund in Germany, for around £24 million.
It should not have been a prohibitive fee for the Reds to pay, given they could recoup that with the sales of Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey and one more squad player—perhaps Oussama Assaidi—but somewhere along the line, the deal failed to materialise.
Mkhitaryan was a Champions League-quality player who the Reds should have been able to entice; instead they will need to move on to secondary targets.
Central defence appears to be a similar theme.
Just as Liverpool were confirming the arrival of Kolo Toure, via the BBC, it was also mentioned that Greek youngster Kyriakos Papadopoulos was a prime target for the same position.
The Liverpool Echo likewise reported that the Reds hoped to pay around £12 million for him—but subsequent reports from the same publication intimated that the actual asking price, estimated at around £20 million, meant that Liverpool were no longer interested.
Elsewhere throughout the team it is a similar story.
Tiago Ilori, a young Portuguese central defender, was seen as an ideal capture for this summer, albeit planning for the future. The Express are amongst those media outlets, though, who believe that deal to be off, with Ilori's club Sporting Lisbon asking for around three times as much as the Reds wanted to pay.
There alone, we have five transfer targets, supposedly prime transfer targets, who have either gone elsewhere or have been priced out of a move.
Do Liverpool have an extensive list of similarly quality backup options? It's possible for some positions, but probably not for all. It should also be acknowledged that despite the best attempts of the media, not all rumours are anything more concrete than that.
But the indications from those most reliable tended toward those names being high on Brendan Rodgers' wanted list, and he's ended up with none of them, at least so far.
Right now, Liverpool don't have the squad to achieve their seasonal objectives, which will namely be to get back into the top four of the Premier League and to challenge seriously for a domestic cup trophy. The boss knows he needs at least two, and more probably around another four, first team players to come into the club to have a chance of reaching that level this year.
There's still a good six or seven weeks' work ahead for the infamous transfer committee of Anfield, but the manager's time will now largely be taken up with preseason training and friendly games. He'll have to leave the negotiating and deal-closing to those in a position to do so.
And for the sake of Liverpool's 2013-14 campaign, fans will have to hope that those individuals prove more capable of sealing the signatures of the next round of targets than has proven possible for the presumed first-choice names.
The next 10 months could show just how much Liverpool might be made to regret missing out on their first choices.