Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played down the importance of the league table at this stage of the season, but Manchester United moving level on points with the champions courtesy of their victory over Aston Villa on New Year's Day will surely only increase the desire to return to winning ways on Monday night.
The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and even Everton have been tipped as possible title challengers already this season before falling away and Man United are the latest threat to Liverpool's crown, just a couple of weeks before the bitter rivals face off at Anfield in their next league game after this.
Klopp will know that his side cannot afford to look past a Southampton side that has impressed so far this season, though, particularly after their anti-climactic end to 2020.
Back-to-back draws against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle, the latter seeing them fail to score for the first time this season, means that only goal difference is now keeping them on top of the pile heading into this match.
Any more dropped points could see that blip become a real concern, and Liverpool have only won their opening league game of the year once in the last eight attempts when that match has come away from home.
The reigning top-flight champions have only begun the New Year with a defeat twice in the last 31 years and, with still only one loss to their name this season, Liverpool will at least be confident of upholding that tradition.
However, on paper at least a trip to St Mary's looks like a tougher task than the recent games against West Brom and Newcastle, so Klopp will be demanding an improvement from his side.
Southampton are also in shaky form heading into this match, though, with a run of four games without a win seeing them slip from a place in the top four down towards mid-table.
A draw at Arsenal and narrow defeat to Manchester City is nothing to be ashamed of, but subsequent goalless draws against Fulham and West Ham will have been more disappointing for Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The Austrian - dubbed the 'Alpine Klopp', incidentally - was forced to watch the latter match from home as he self-isolated due to his wife testing positive for COVID-19, but he is free to return to the dugout for this match as he looks to lead his side back to winning, and indeed goalscoring, ways.
The Saints come into this match having recorded back-to-back 0-0 draws for the first time since October 2018, and they could record three in a row for the first time in their league history - although that looks unlikely against the division's highest scorers.
However, on their end of the bargain Southampton have now failed to score in their last three games, while they have also failed to register in six of their last eight matches against Liverpool, none of which they have won.
Liverpool have won each of the last six of those by an aggregate score of 17-2, but a small slice of history does beckon for Southampton if they can stop the rot on Monday night.
The Saints have won 10 league games against the reigning Premier League champions in the past, which includes beating all six clubs to have won the trophy when defending their title; victory over Liverpool would see them become the first team to beat all seven Premier League champions in the season following their title triumph.
All three of their home defeats this season have come against 'big six' teams, though, and Liverpool will be hoping for that trend to continue on Monday night.
Southampton Premier League form: WWDLDD
Liverpool Premier League form: WDWWDD
Liverpool form (all competitions): DDWWDD
Liverpool were able to finally welcome Thiago Alcantara back into the fold against Newcastle, and the Spain international could be set for only his second start of the season here.
Mohamed Salah will be desperate to start again having scored seven goals in his six Premier League games against Southampton.
The hosts have their own deadly striker in former Liverpool man Danny Ings, who has had a direct hand in 38 Premier League goals for the club since Hasenhuttl's arrival in December 2018.
Alex McCarthy has also been ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19, forcing him into a period of self-isolation.
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Walcott; Adams, Ings
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Thiago, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
We say: Southampton 1-2 Liverpool
Southampton have proven themselves capable of picking up points in games like this, and a faltering Liverpool will know that this promises to be a difficult test for them on Monday night.
However, with Thiago now back in their ranks and Manchester United breathing down their necks, we expect Liverpool to edge to a narrow victory in their opening match of 2021.
Top betting tip
Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below: