Liverpool have added other defenders, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago llori, but that Skrtel-Agger axis will take some breaking.
Liverpool's supreme work-rate also underpinned the movement of Sturridge, who harried Manchester United's defenders relentlessly and took his early goal superbly on his 24th birthday. Shankly memorably advised Ian St??John to put the ball in the net first "and then we'll discuss the options afterwards", an approach that defined Sturridge's instinctive header.
The second element of the holy trinity, Brendan Rodgers, got his tactics right, using a 4-2-3-1 system with Gerrard and Lucas commanding central midfield. Rodgers's tweaking of Gerrard's position is paying off. At 33, Gerrard is slightly deeper than in his barnstorming pomp but remains a huge influence. Tom Cleverley resembled an apprentice in comparison to the master.
Rodgers's pressing game unsettled United while he has clearly been drilling the defence successfully. The one negative was Iago Aspas, the No?9 who looked overwhelmed by the manic nature of the most important fixture in the English calendar.
Rodgers is making Liverpool feared again, making the "This is Anfield" sign put up by Shankly even more of a statement of intent. "This is to remind our lads who they're playing for and to remind the opposition who they're playing against,'' Shankly had said of the sign above the steps en route from the dressing-room to the pitch.
When Rodgers's players emerged on to the field, they were greeted rapturously. The most numerous section of the holy trinity, the fans, certainly played their part, forming a mosaic of Shankly on the Kop, exhorting Liverpool throughout and finishing with a deafening You'll Never Walk Alone as old foe were defeated.
United's August was always going to be arduous. David Moyes never has any joy here and this was the former Everton manager's 13th visit without a win.
Moyes spoke afterwards of his pleasure in his team's display, but this was surely the old Sir Alex Ferguson trick of shielding the players from gusts of criticism. It is hoped that Moyes is more candid with his players in private. Too many individual mistakes scarred their performance.
These are early days in Moyes's tenure, far too soon for any judgments, but he needs to inject some life into the flanks again, where Ashley Young was unconvincing, and particularly spend quickly and heavily to install urgency, authority and creativity into central midfield. Marouane Fellaini cannot arrive from Goodison Park soon enough. Shinji Kagawa must wonder what he must to do to convince Moyes that he can bring some vibrancy to the final third.
Van Persie laboured without any service of note. Moyes was unlucky that Rooney, the man who can provide touch and vision, was absent, having had his forehead accidentally sliced open in training by Phil Jones.
Roy Hodgson looked slightly forlorn at times at Anfield on Sunday, learning that Rooney was out of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, and then seeing Jones and Glen Johnson limp off and out of his squad. Shoehorned into the scouts' section, Hodgson was not sitting comfortably, partly because a clerical error by Liverpool meant he was denied access to the directors' box and the boardroom.
It will have crossed Hodgson's mind that this could have been some form of revenge by someone at the club for his unsuccessful stint here as manager. Hodgson briefly considered leaving at half-time but eventually stayed for 85 minutes. Liverpool, whose American owners are big on etiquette, apologised "profusely" to Hodgson and were clearly embarrassed by the oversight.
One Liverpool fan mused on whether Hodgson "should apologise to us for Poulsen and Konchesky" but this was a time for Liverpool to honour a past manager in Shankly and salute the current one in Rodgers.
His team started strongly, scoring after four minutes. Gerrard curled a corner across, Rio Ferdinand was too sluggish and Agger angled a header towards the far-post. Sturridge intervened, meeting the ball, heading it past Cleverley on the line. Cleverley, anticipating the direction of Agger's header, failed to react to Sturridge's interception, almost ducking out of the way.
Liverpool largely controlled the first half, particularly when the ball was enjoying the company of the elegant Coutinho. The Brazilian glided around Cleverley but shot wide. Gerrard went close with a shot and a free-kick. For United, Danny Welbeck momentarily worried Mignolet.
The fixture's usual hand-bagging broke out. Van Persie and Agger had a staring match. Van Persie and Giggs took it in turns to bring down Coutinho. Cleverley clattered Coutinho. Van Persie nailed Agger with a late challenge in front of an enraged Kop. The sour atmosphere continued with Michael Carrick catching Aspas and the half ending with Van Persie accusing Skrtel of an elbow and Liverpool claiming a punch thrown.
The second half was an advertisement for United's shortage of ideas and Liverpool's abundance of defensive excellence. Van Persie and Young had shots blocked and Mignolet made a good save from Nani. Down the other end, Raheem Sterling was denied by David De Gea and, shortly afterwards, the final whistle confirmed Liverpool's victory and brought an unbelievable roar from the Kop.
Shankly would have approved.