Selhurst Park again proved an unhappy hunting ground for Liverpool as Crystal Palace earned a 3-1 win in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.
Dwight Gayle, Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak got the goals to ensure Brendan Rodgers' side, who let a three-goal lead slip at the ground last season in a match that scuppered their Barclays Premier League title challenge, continued their poor start to the campaign.
It appeared Liverpool would exorcise the demons from last time out when Lambert, afforded a rare starting opportunity since returning to his boyhood team, converted his first goal for the club in the second minute.
But Gayle, whose double in that 3-3 draw proved so pivotal, levelled matters 15 minutes later as Palace found the ideal riposte.
Ledley and Jedinak finished the job with late strikes to heap further misery on Liverpool - whose bottom-half standing makes the lofty heights of 2013-14 seem an increasingly distant memory.
Palace, meanwhile, climbed out of the bottom three on goal difference following a first win in six league outings.
Liverpool flew out of the blocks to take the lead as Lambert, playing in place of the injured Mario Balotelli, justified his selection in the second minute.
It was the striker's connection with Adam Lallana, so fruitful at Southampton before both completed off-season moves to Anfield, that made the difference as the former picked out the 32-year-old with a lovely ball in behind Martin Kelly. Lambert did the rest expertly, deftly controlling the ball before producing the coolest of finishes.
Thoughts that an easy afternoon might ensue were quickly put to rest, however, as Gayle levelled in the 17th minute.
Yannick Bolasie was the architect, his strike at the end of a driving run rattling the post to gift Gayle a tap-in from the rebound.
The match took on an end-to-end nature thereafter, with Bolasie again threatening when forcing Simon Mignolet into a solid stop with a powerful strike from distance.
He continued to prove the biggest threat, epitomised by him forcing Dejan Lovren into a superb block at the end of a fine counter-attack.
His next chance came just before the break, Bolasie striking just over from a tight angle having collected Jason Puncheon's through-ball.
Liverpool created the first chance of the second period, Martin Skrtel volleying just wide after Palace failed to clear Steven Gerrard's corner.
Yet Palace grew into the match again following that chance as they pressed forward with menace.
The hosts were unable to take advantage of good openings - something they almost paid for when Javi Manquillo side-footed just wide from 12 yards.
Liverpool were rueing that miss in the 78th minute, Ledley slotting through the legs of Mignolet following more good work from the outstanding Bolasie to send the home crowd into raptures.
Hopes of a comeback were quickly snuffed out, too, as Jedinak produced a stunning 25-yard free-kick that flew into the top corner after Skrtel had brought down Gayle with nine minutes remaining.
The full-time whistle confirmed Liverpool's sixth top-flight defeat of the campaign and left a rain-soaked Rodgers with plenty to contemplate.
Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock: "That was the best performance since I have come back to the club. I thought the weather helped. Our crowd were fantastic
"The first goal was disappointing but you can score too early sometimes. We created some good chances. I'm pleased to get three goals.
"I thought we got rewarded for playing good football. We looked really organised and difficult to break down."
"I wouldn't want to play against Bolasie. He doesn't know what he's going to do next, so how can the full-back?"
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "We made a really good start to the game - Rickie Lambert got his first goal with a terrific finish. We made the perfect start but failed to manage the game at 1-0.
"We are very, very disappointed with the performance and the result and as the manager it is something I need to take full responsibility for.
"Our confidence is not high at the moment, we do not see speed in the passing and we have to work even harder. It is a difficult moment, a tough time because of the results and we have to make sure we retain one focus - that of getting better and improving and very, very quickly because games come thick and fast."
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|02 Dec 2014||v Aston Villa (H)|
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|20 Dec 2014||v Man City (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Southampton (H)|