Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists his opinion of Liverpool has not been altered by their below-par season in 2022-23.
Liverpool visit Guardiola's City on Saturday with their campaign all but over.
The Reds have long since been out of the Premier League title race and have a big task ahead of them just to finish in the top four.
They did not win the EFL Cup and are out of the FA Cup and the Champions League.
It is a far cry from last year, when Liverpool pushed City to the last day in the league, bidding for an unprecedented quadruple before falling just short and finishing with just the two domestic trophies.
City are fighting Arsenal for the title this season, but Guardiola expects Liverpool to be back, even if he has no explanation for their lack of consistency.
"They remain an exceptional team," said the City manager. "My opinion doesn't change for one season of ups and downs. Every club can have a season of ups and downs.
"Now, the biggest rival is a different one this season. But with what happened in the past and in the future, they could be a big rival.
.@leroy_sane's stunning strike making it 5-0 against Liverpool in 2017! pic.twitter.com/oiGPReIhYc— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 30, 2023
"For one game, absolutely, they can beat everyone, like we can beat everyone. One game is one game.
"It's about being consistent, and always Liverpool have been. This season... I don't know why [they have not been], because I'm not there, and honestly I don't care. I don't know the reason why, so you'll have to ask my colleague."
If Liverpool's season has been one of "ups and downs", City's could yet end on a remarkable high.
Second in the Premier League and into the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League quarter-finals, they remain in contention for the treble.
But Guardiola continues to take one game at a time, explaining: "It's the best approach we can have. It can be boring, maybe it would be better if I said the opposite, but the reality is it's [about] the next game. Otherwise it cannot happen.
"I've said many times: just one team in the history of the Premier League won the treble – the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup – because it's so difficult. That's why we should not think about these kind of things.
"We have this game, then we have a long week and after a tough, tough schedule with many games. The most important thing is that we are still fighting.
"We are in all competitions. That is awesome, that is so good."