Rafael Benitez took over in the summer of 2004, and the rebuilding phase got underway in the most remarkable fashion - glory in that famous Champions League final in Istanbul rather overshadowed the fifth-place league finish.
The Reds are now back amongst Europe's elite and pushing for silverware on a regular basis. Plenty of players have come and gone in that time, but which have had the most lasting (and positive) impact?
Pepe Reina (2005-)
Benitez hailed Pepe as the best goalkeeper in Spain when he plucked him from Villarreal. Some scoffed, but since his arrival at Anfield, the Barcelona product has firmly established himself as one of the world's finest shot-stoppers. Noted for his sweeping and distribution skills, Reina is easily the best 'Pool have had between the sticks since Bruce Grobbelaar.
Steve Finnan (2003-2008)
Brought from Fulham by Houllier, the Irishman struggled somewhat during his early days at the club. However, he survived the Benitez cull and saw off competition from several continental recruits to become arguably the most consistent right-back in England.
Jamie Carragher (1996-)
In the Benitez era, 'Carra' has evolved from a handy utility into a central defender of immense quality. Uncompromising and hugely passionate, the Bootle boy is a proper leader and the commander of one of the most reliable defensive lines in Europe.
Sami Hyypia (1999-2009)
Pound for pound, the big Finn must be one of Liverpool's all-time best buys - just over £2 million for a Kop legend is pretty decent value. Now at Bayern Leverkusen after a glorious decade at Anfield, Hyypia ranks among the greatest center-halves to have played in the Premier League.
John Arne Riise (2001-2008)
His last years at Liverpool were not his finest, but that should not detract from the contribution he made in seasons prior. Boasting an explosive left foot, the Norwegian defender produced some of the most memorable strikes in the Reds' recent history. A clear standout for the left-back slot.
Dietmar Hamann (1999-2006)
He looks like an economics professor and drinks like a sailor on shore leave (if Jamie Carragher is to be believed), but 'Didi' is as tough and focused as they come when there is a game of football to be played. An absolute favorite with the Kop, and was instrumental in the 2005 Champions League win.
Xabi Alonso (2004-)
Alonso's arrival signaled the beginning of the 'Rafalution'. Although not the quickest around (indeed, he and Hamann were an almost tortuously adynamic pairing at times), his technical qualities and unrivaled passing range have been making Kopites smile for the past five years.
Steven Gerrard (1998-)
No explanation needed. Life-long Liverpudlian, arch-captain, and the driving force behind an ever-improving team. One of those rare players who can win games (and trophies) off his own boot. Versatile to a fault, 'Stevie G' is the heart of the Liverpool Football Club.
Gary McAllister (2000-2002)
Houllier described 'Gary Mac' as his most inspirational signing - and he's probably right. Eyebrows were raised when he arrived at age 35 on a free transfer, but the Scot brought some much needed wisdom and creativity to a team that had previously lacked leadership and direction. A key member of the 2000-01 treble triumph.
Michael Owen (1996-2004)
He grew up an Evertonian (in Wales), left for Real Madrid in controversial circumstances, and now he's a Manc - safe to say, he's not the most popular ex-Red. Betrayal aside, nobody can dispute his record while at Anfield - he just scored goals, no matter who he was playing alongside or against.
Fernando Torres (2007-)
He's not been on Merseyside long, but 'El Nino' is already well on the way to becoming an all-time great. The Spaniard filled a gaping void that had existed since Owen's departure, and he could be the key in Liverpool's bid to break their title drought.
Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Mike Maguire, Goal.com
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