Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen put Liverpool into seventh heaven in Cardiff as they clinched the Worthington Cup 2-0 against bitter rivals Manchester United.
Gerrard's deflected effort put the Anfield outfit in front six minutes before the interval and they looked like repelling United's second-half onslaught anyway before Owen strode forward to slide home the clincher late on.
But the real hero was keeper Jerzy Dudek, who made up for his aberration which gifted Manchester United victory in the Barclaycard Premiership meeting between the bitter north-west rivals earlier in the season.
Dudek made a string of fine saves to deny both Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy an equaliser as Liverpool collected the League Cup for a record seventh time and leave United staring at the prospect of successive seasons without a trophy for only the second time in Sir Alex Ferguson's long and illustrious reign.
Liverpool started with El Hadji Diouf on the right flank instead of Vladimir Smicer but their recent inconsistency was all too evident in their cautious start.
Indeed, had United not rushed their final ball, with Juan Sebastian Veron especially culpable, they could have seized the lead early on.
Instead, it was not until the 22nd minute that United found any real spark as Ryan Giggs spun wide before clipping in a low cross which Ruud van Nistelrooy toe-poked just wide at full stretch.
Liverpool, meanwhile, were non-existent as an attacking force, with just two of their players' minds not focused primarily on defensive duties.
When one of them, Emile Heskey, found the other one, Owen, his deft turn took him clear inside the box only for Fabien Barthez to block at his feet.
That moment on inspiration, albeit with 35 minutes gone still injected some much-needed urgency into Liverpool's approach with the non-stop figure of Danny Murphy lobbing a shot just over the top.
There were still few attacking options ahead of Gerrard when he received possession 30 yards out from John Arne Riise four minutes later.
The England midfielder responded by unleashing a powerful drive which deflected off David Beckham and then looped over Barthez before dipping under the bar.
It was the classic Liverpool sucker-punch, but it finally gave the game the edge which it had painfully lacked.
Back came a reinvigorated United side, with Dudek blocking Veron's effort before Stephane Henchoz somehow managed to deflect Paul Scholes' follow-up effort over the top.
United's hesitancy resumed after the break, while Liverpool's defensive resistance now took on a rather more heroic guise as Dudek flung himself full length to deny van Nistelrooy twice, as well as Scholes.
Milan Baros, meanwhile, came on for Heskey and almost immediately surged forward before slipping the ball to Gerrard at the last moment only for his shot to be tipped around the post by Barthez.
Murphy also had an effort blocked and it was United who now needed the positive impact of a substitution, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replacing Brown as Giggs moved to left-back.
Faced with such a packed Liverpool defence, what United really needed, however, was a moment of inspiration from the likes of Beckham and Veron, whose passing was letting them down.
Scholes went diving in search of a penalty but it was Liverpool who pounced. With United forced into all-out attack, that is exactly when Liverpool are at their most potent.
Mikael Silvestre's dreadful control in the centre of the field allowed Didier Hamann to thread Owen through, and he scuttled at full pace into the United penalty area before slotting his shot past Barthez.
Ferdinand cleared a late chance off the line but having experienced the frustration of sitting on the bench during the 2001 final, Owen had this time made his mark in the most public fashion.
So too had Dudek and Houllier.