Ryan Giggs admitted Manchester United performed far from their best in Sunday's emotionally charged Premier League encounter at Anfield, but praised the resilience shown by his team-mates to secure an important 2-1 victory against Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard's strike gave the hosts an early second-half lead, despite going down to 10 men after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a tackle on defender Jonny Evans, but a Rafael wonder-goal and Robin van Persie penalty secured all three points for the visitors.
The game was Liverpool's first at home since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, exonerating Reds fans in relation to the 1989 disaster.
Captaining United on there return to Merseyside, Giggs - alongside Liverpool skipper Gerrard - released 96 red balloons in memory of the victims before the match, as part of a number of tributes, but the 38-year-old did not feel the emotion of the occasion got to the players.
"Over the last three or four years we've come here and played a lot better and not got anything - that's how it goes sometimes," Giggs explained. "It's always tough against a team like Liverpool who keep the ball well.
"The crowd got up and we didn't play well, we didn't keep the ball well enough, so it was great to see Rafa's goal go in - that probably lifted us. Even if they go down to 10 men they don't change, they keep the ball, and that's always tough.
"It's just a tough place to come and Liverpool obviously wanted to put on a performance because of the occasion, and they did that."
Sir Alex Ferguson echoed the view of his stand-in skipper, who took the armband from the absent Nemanja Vidic, reflecting that the result is the most important thing.
"A win's a win, so we've got to be pleased with the result, but not the performance," said the Scot. "I thought we were poor.
"Over the last four years we have allowed the (Anfield) crowd to get at us a little bit. They gave fantastic support to their team and they dominated.
"We played better in the second half but it was against 10 men and Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs' experience got us through. No doubts about the penalty though, it was reckless.
"We haven't played well here for the past four years and we can do better but at least we got a result. It is a turning point for us."