But he would have envisaged several superior scenarios to how Liverpool started the new annum at the Stadium of Light.
The German was a frame of frustration post-match, in part because he felt some decisions were hard to stomach, and because he knew that the performance in the 2-2 draw was not a patch on what his team are capable of.
“We can play better football for sure, but I’m not sure we can with a one-day break,” was his simple assessment, a side-eye to the maddening fixture schedule, which threw up this test less than 48 hours after the New Year’s Eve ousting of Pep Guardiola’s men.
Given the rapid turnaround equalling a limited time to train or formulate a solid tactical plan, Klopp resisted shuffling his starting XI bar bringing in Sturridge for Jordan Henderson.
The captain, nursing a heel issue, was left out of the matchday squad with the striker making his first Premier League start in 77 days.
And while Sturridge stung Vito Mannone’s palms twice in the opening stanza of play before heading Liverpool in front, the absence of the midfielder highlighted how fundamental he has been for the club this season.
Emre Can, operating as the No. 6 in his absence, struggled to provide the authoritative base Henderson offers in possession by switching the play, determining the direction of Liverpool’s attacks and exposing the half-spaces.
Off the ball, he could not match the skipper’s proactiveness as the screen to guard against counters, while organising his teammates to regain possession and turn the opposition around.
Can’s indecisiveness meant the visitors were often behind play, which encouraged Sunderland and created positional issues for Klopp’s side.
Milner, for example, who already had an exacting task at left-back, tucked in as an auxiliary central midfielder at times to try and spread play.
Liverpool, failing to assert themselves and control the encounter, invited Sunderland to press, pressurise and penalise them.
There was just six minutes between Sturridge’s opener and Jermain Defoe’s equaliser at the Stadium of Light.
Dejan Lovren, left unattended in the area, scuffed a volley off Milner’s corner, with the forward anticipating the flight of the ball to peel off Didier Ndong and head beyond Mannone.
The Gabon international was in the thick of the action again moments later, going down in the box inbetween Ragnar Klavan and Gini Wijnaldum to earn a spot-kick.
Defoe stepped up and despite Simon Mignolet, at full stretch, guessing the right way, the striker found the bottom left corner.
Sunderland should have swung the encounter in their favour shortly afterwards, as their goalscorer raced through, but the Belgian stopper was the winner of the duel.
Mignolet denied Defoe with his feet, before Fabio Borini’s effort from the rebound went wide.
Liverpool looked to affect matters at the other end, but were lacking their usual effervescence in and around the area.
Laboured rather than lively, understandable given the intensity of the showdown against City and the non-existent recovery period, the Reds needed to regroup at the interval.
At the start of the second half, Klopp called on the pace off Alberto Moreno in place of Milner, who sustained a knock to his calf.
Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane had almost moments as Liverpool tried to force themselves into the ascendancy, but with the game still too open for Klopp’s liking, Defoe and Borini both had efforts blocked.
The second for the Reds did eventually come when Mane, playing his last game before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations, was left unmarked at the far post as Papy Djilobodji flicked on a Liverpool corner and the Senegal international coolly converted.
But as was the case in the first half, a goal for the visitors was quickly followed by one for the hosts.
Mane handled Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick – a deadball situation that Klopp was at pains to make clear should have never been granted – gifting Sunderland another penalty and Defoe had his double.
Liverpool, having to constantly look up at Chelsea, will not have wanted to start 2017 by dropping points after twice taking the lead.
Klopp’s frustration will permeate through the squad and should be used, as it has in the past, as stimulus to strike back.
They have stayed within touching distance of Antonio Conte’s side despite being without Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip for large periods as well as losing the influential likes of Henderson, Lallana and Sturridge for spells.
With Mane jetting off, Liverpool must ensure they continue to keep Chelsea looking over the shoulders. The year is still young, and so is the title shake up.