Roberto Martinez's line-up for the first pre-season friendly of the summer at Tranmere featured a healthy mix of youth and experience.
The likes of Conor McAleny, John Lundstram, Ty Browning and Matthew Kennedy lined up alongside Steven Pienaar, Sylvain Distin and Gareth Barry. Darron Gibson started on the bench but was expected to play a part as he feels his way back from long-term injury.
Though McAleny and Browning looked bright and Shane Duffy was marshalling the defence well, it was Luke Garbutt who was arguably the stand-out performer among the younger players for the Blues in the first half, showing his strengths in both defensive and offensive capacities.
And he laid on the opening goal for Steven Naismith with an excellent cross from the left that the Scot got to ahead of the goalkeeper to turn the ball home from close range.
Martinez switched all of his 10 outfield players for substitutes at half time to give maximum playing time to each member of the squad.
The hosts levelled early in the second half when Cole Stockton latched onto a poor John Stones backpass and lofted the ball over Joel Robles.
Leon Osman restored the Blues' lead shortly afterwards from a corner, though, when an Aiden McGeady corner came to him and he scored in routine fashion.
Seamus Coleman had only been on the field for half an hour when he was forced off with a suspected hamstring injury, Garbutt permitted to come back on to replace him.
Tranmere equalised a second time when James Rowe capitalised on space in behind Antolin Alcaraz and fired past Robles with a few minutes to go.
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|Gill (Koumas 54')|
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