When it rains, it pours.

The sleet storm that whipped around St Mary’s before kick-off against Liverpool was not the only thing dampening the mood.

It was hard to imagine a much worse weekend for Saints.

Results elsewhere went against them in pretty much every other fixture so that by the time the late game against Liverpool started they were back in the bottom three.

It was a truly remarkable set of results for that to conspire to happen.

And then, just to round it all off, there was to be no last laugh over Virgil van Dijk on his first return to St Mary’s.

Instead the Dutch defender looked near his imperious best as Liverpool won with worrying comfort.

With an FA Cup game next up, it condemns Saints to at least a fortnight in the relegation zone, which has such a damaging psychological impact.

Trying to look on the positive side, defeat to the Reds, or rather illuminous oranges, was a blip after some better recent results and, though a surprise point or three would have been a big help, it is hardly these type of games that will make or break it for Saints.

Instead, after the Cup match, Saints face a run where they take on Burnley, Stoke, Swansea, Newcastle and West Ham. That set of fixtures looks absolutely decisive in their battle to stay in the division.

On the more negative side, it is concerning just how flat things are, despite what you thought would have been a real morale booster of a win at West Brom.

Victories have been so thin on the ground this season you felt it would give everybody a lift.

But there was barely a hint of optimism, of positivity, at St Mary’s, both on and off the pitch.

It just feels like a grim acceptance of the situation, whether that is fair or not.

Even the boos for van Dijk, and the host of other Saints who have departed for Merseyside, lacked a great deal of conviction.

And more negativity towards some players and chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ to Mauricio Pellegrino just underlined a few of the many issues at play.

Saints started slowly and Liverpool took the lead after just six minutes with an incisive counter attack.

Loris Karius bowled the ball out to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who played it forward down the right.

Wesley Hoedt should have cut it out but missed the ball and it went through to Mo Salah. He squared in the area to Roberto Firmino who produced a clinical first time left footed finish into the bottom corner.

With Liverpool seemingly happy to give Saints a measure of time and space, attempting to draw them out and then pounce in response, it actually gave Pellegrino’s side a chance to build back into the game, and they did so fairly well.

They had a few decent opportunities to draw level, but couldn’t take them.

Oriol Romeu’s raking high pass found Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who superbly brought the ball down but then took too long to wait for the perfect time to shoot by which time Karius was out at him and blocked with his body.

James Ward-Prowse delivered an excellent right wing cross to Guido Carrillo, surely a sign of things to come, but the striker’s header from ten yards out was straight down the middle and routine for Karius.

Ward-Prowse extended Karius further with a header from six yards following Dusan Tadic’s pinpoint cross but the Liverpool stopper turned over the bar.

The midfielder could only find a tame header when given another opportunity from a little further out just minutes later.

Saints were made to pay as Liverpool ended the half as they started it.

Salah drew out Hoedt, played a one-two with Firmino, who was given the space to produce a deft flick back into the space created, and Salah placed a low finish past Alex McCarthy.

It left Saints with a long way to go to get back into the match in the second half, and also a dilemma in terms of a game plan.

If they attacked Liverpool it would leave them exposed, defend and there was little hope.

Saints tried to strike a balance but rarely looked like even believing they might get back into it, let alone actually doing it.

Instead it was Liverpool with the better chances. In fact, it was Liverpool who had the only chances.

Salah had a chance on the turn in the area but fired over the bar, before later hitting the side netting after being presented a follow-up opportunity following McCarthy’s save from Firmino.

Sadio Mane turned in the area but hit a rasping shot wide while Adam Lallana so nearly ended a dismal weekend in style as a one-two with Salah gave him the chance to shoot but he curled wide of the far post.

It’s going to be a long two weeks until that vital run of games. Then it really is now or never time as there will be no room left for damp weekends.