Derby recorded their first win over Liverpool for 20 years, but it was still not enough to earn them a UEFA Cup spot.
Michael Owen was not even a twinkle in his father's eye when the Rams last beat Liverpool 4-2 back in March 1978.
But Derby turned back the clock in front of Pride Park's biggest ever crowd of 30,492 to take the Reds' scalp.
They deservedly won against lacklustre Liverpool courtesy of Paulo Wanchope's 17th goal of the season after 63 minutes.
But the victory lost much of its shine as news filtered through from around the country that it was not enough to qualify the Rams for Europe.
Boss Jim Smith, who was presented with the Carling Number One Award last week in recognition of 25 years league management, had not held out much hope of booking a UEFA Cup berth and instead will be pleased to finish on a high after taking just seven points from their previous nine matches.
Liverpool, who were without Paul Ince, Steve McManaman, Jason McAteer and Oyvind Leonhardsen, looked a pale shadow of the side which put nine goals past West Ham and champions Arsenal.
They were already assured of third place and gave their travelling fans little to cheer, and but for a fine performance by Brad Friedel they could have lost by more.
A mistake by Steve Harkness in his own box presented Derby with the opening chance after five minutes. Lee Carsley released Rory Delap down the right and when Harkness failed to clear his cross, Wanchope set up Dean Sturridge only for the Rams striker to shoot over the crossbar.
Derby went close again when Delap found Francesco Baiano, but Friedel saved after the Italian had juggled the ball in the box.
Liverpool responded and Danny Murphy, starting in place of McManaman on the right, unleashed a 20-yard shot which Mart Poom saved with his legs before the home goalkeeper blocked a Patrik Berger effort.
Derby continued to pressurise the Liverpool goal and from a short corner, Lars Bohinen broke into the box only for Friedel to save again.
Owen had been kept unusually quiet but after 36 minutes proved how dangerous he can be when he flashed a shot just wide of Poom's far post.
Despite being second best for most of the first half, Michael Thomas could have given Liverpool the lead but shot straight at Poom after he had found himself free on the right.
Liverpool went close after the interval when Bjornebye found Berger on the left only for the Czech Republic international to drill the ball into Poom's grateful arms.
Wanchope should have scored after 54 minutes from the best move of the match. Rams' Player of the Year Baiano released Sturridge, who in turn played in Wanchope on the left, but the Costa Rican fired his shot past Friedel and the far post.
Derby took heart from the chance and Carsley went close with a 25-yard drive before Sturridge waltzed past Bjorn Kvarme and Phil Babb only to shoot straight at Friedel.
The Rams won a succession of corners and from one in the 61st minute, Sturridge just failed to connect with Baiano's far-post cross.
The home side finally took the lead two minutes later when Wanchope rose eight yards out to head Baiano's corner underneath Friedel and into the net for his 17th goal of the season.
Liverpool's frustration was summed up when Owen was shown the yellow card by Lodge for kicking the ball away into the home supporters.
Derby: Poom, Rowett, C. Powell, Sturridge, Wanchope (Burton 77), Delap, Bohinen (D. Powell 84), Laursen, Carsley, Dailly, Baiano.
Subs Not Used: Hoult, Van Der Laan, Kozluk.
Goals: Wanchope 63.
Liverpool: Friedel, Kvarme, Babb, Harkness, Riedle, Berger, Thomas, Owen, Bjornebye, Carragher, Murphy.
Subs Not Used: James, McManaman, Gudnason, Roberts, Williams.
Booked: Murphy, Harkness, Owen.
Ref: S J Lodge (Barnsley).
Copyright - Press Association