Head coach Carlton Fairweather will not be pressing any panic buttons just yet.
But Sunderland are going to have to turn promise into points – and fast.
And with a trip to champions Chelsea next Wednesday the final game before a month’s break, it is a tall order. The Lady Black Cats suffered their second successive home WSL1 defeat after clinical Liverpool won 4-0 at Hetton.
It leaves Fairweather’s side dangerously close to the relegation zone and still without a league win in 2016.
On paper, it looks a thrashing but sometimes scorelines do not tell the whole story. Sunderland peppered the Liverpool goal and gave absolutely everything – everything that is apart from goals.
Liverpool had five attempts at the home goal and scored four of them.
Rosie White’s eighth-minute strike was a stunner, but goals two and three were gifts from Sunderland skipper Steph Bannon.
The defender hacked down Tasha Harding for England defender Alex Greenwood’s 36th-minute penalty and then put the midfielder’s cross in her own net 16 minutes from time.
Sub Katie Zelem added the fourth in injury time when the match was long gone for Sunderland.
Fairweather said: “It wasn’t a 4-0 game – yes we gave away some silly goals, but we worked hard and created a lot of chances.
“We’ve worked their keeper and on another day we’d have come away with a few goals.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing but we must now lift ourselves for the Chelsea game.”
Liverpool stopper Siobhan Chamberlain made her first intervention in the seventh minute, diving low to her left to keep out a super shot by Keira Ramshaw.
But barely a minute later, Liverpool were ahead, Kiwi ace White firing an angled 20-yard beauty past Rachael Laws.
Chamberlain was at it again in the 21st minute, this time saving low to her right from a Lucy Staniforth free-kick while Brooke Chaplen, Steph Roche and Rachael Furness were all off-target with efforts.
It was against the run of play Liverpool doubled their lead, Bannon bringing down Harding near the by-line for a stonewall penalty.Greenwood sent Laws the wrong way from the spot.
Sunderland went agonisingly close in first-half stoppage time, Chamberlain saving from Beth Mead’s close-range effort and Greenwood clearing off the line from Chaplen’s shot from the edge of the box.
After the break, the away keeper kept out Furness’s low shot and then superbly tipped over a Roche header from Ramshaw’s cross.
Ironically, Liverpool’s third came from a home corner. Harding dashed down the right on the counter-attack and her cross was put into her own net by luckless Bannon, who had to go for the ball. In stoppage time, Zelem put in number four after god work by fellow sub Shanice Van De Sanden.
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Sharp, Williams, Staniforth (McDougall 76), Furness (Hill 77), Ramshaw (Joice 77), Chaplen, Roche, Mead. Unused subs: Kelly, Potts, Brown, Olsen
Liverpool: Chamberlain, Murray (Hudson 82), Bonner,Ingle, Greenwood, Longhurst, Coombs, White (Zelem 56); Harding, Lundh, Weir (Van De Sanden 74). Unused subs: Gibbons, Green, Pacheco
Goals: White 6; Greenwood 36 (pen), Bannon OG 73, Zelem 90
Bookings: White 40, Greenwood 64
Referee: Lucy May Oliver.