Rafa Benitez has pointed to the loss of stopper Daniel Agger as an early blow to Liverpool's push for silverware this season.
The Dane provided both an aerial presence and a goal threat, with the Reds boss concerned about the amount of goals conceded from set-pieces in his absence.
Now, he admits that the defender comes back in good shape, but insists that only minor squad surgery is needed at Anfield this summer.
"The squad is better [than one year ago] and we have a better team," Benitez told LFC TV.
"Especially in the last three months, the understanding between the players was really good. We were winning games and scoring goals and we nearly got to the final of the Champions League.
"This year we have improved a lot. We signed two or three really good players, and also players who've been good for the squad.
"Every year you must improve a lot because the other teams are doing the same. I think Chelsea have just spent £16million on a right full back even though they got to the final."
In addition to the loss of Agger, Rafa admits that failing to sign Gabriel Heinze, who eventually signed for Madrid from Man Utd, was a blow. Asked if Heinze would have provided more defensive cover, the boss said: "Yes, I think so.
"We conceded goals at the end of games and drew. The centre backs - Carra [Jamie Carragher] and Sami [Hyypia] - were playing too many games.
"Sometimes Jack Hobbs or Alvaro Arbeloa played, but we clearly missed Agger. Agger is a centre back who can play the ball, he is a threat to the opposition.
"We have a lot of good players and we also have some really good young players; this is important. I think we have the spine of the team next season and now we need to add players in certain positions.
"We have analysed a lot of things this year. For example, we have conceded a lot of goals from set pieces. We need to understand why because last season we conceded six, now it's 16, yet we're doing more or less the same things.
"We can improve in this area. We also need to keep the team scoring in open play while at the same time improving a little bit in defence. We have been really good in defence for three of four years, but I think we need to improve a little bit if we want to be at the top of the table."
Benitez continued to say the money spent in the Premiership is daunting, particularly at the top end, before observing: "Clearly it's more difficult than in Spain because the top sides spend big, big money.