While Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch will be offered applause on their return with Stoke City on Sunday, the best Owen can hope for is mild ambivalence.
Owen's relationship with the side he joined as a 12 year-old was soiled when
he left for Real Madrid in 2004 and hopes of a reconciliation ended when he
became a Manchester United player in the summer of 2009. For many, that was
confirmation that Owen's attachment to
Even when he was scoring iconic Liverpool goals in Cardiff or Rome, there was a feeling Owen was not enough like Robbie Fowler for Liverpool sensibilities. In France '98, through nothing but his own precocious brilliance, he became an England idol before a Liverpool one and had a management company advising him to embrace, rather than step away from, a patriotic image, which actually distanced him from The Kop.
The antipathy shown towards Owen immediately after his departure to Real Madrid, and indeed following his move to Manchester United, has unfairly overshadowed how committed and extraordinary he was in a Liverpool jersey.
When Owen left for Real Madrid in the aftermath of Gerard Houllier's Liverpool departure - and more significantly Rafa Benitez's arrival - it was the timing that caused most irritation. In an echo of Brendan Rodgers' deadline day troubles in August, Benitez lost the striker on the eve of the new season and had no time to replace him.
Rather than the move being seen for what it was - a player who'd contributed trophy-winning goals at Liverpool grasping what he saw as his last opportunity to play for the biggest club in the world - Owen was accused of leaving Liverpool in the lurch.
The fact he'd suggested Benitez's appointment would cause him to sign a new deal didn't help, although it was also apparent the new Liverpool manager was not entirely convinced of Owen's class during his first few weeks in charge.
Owen had a year left on his contract when he left Liverpool and the £10 million fee to Madrid was pathetic and damaging to the club. From his point of view, had it not been so small he’d never have been such an attractive purchase for the Spaniards. As Fernando Torres discovered a few years later, no player is ever going to win the PR battle when he seeks understanding of his needs ahead of the club he is leaving.
In retrospect, the annoyance at the circumstances of Owen's exit ought to have been temporary, particularly when Liverpool won the Champions League without him. It festered, however, and deteriorated when, despite Liverpool having first option to re-sign him from Madrid a year later, Owen joined Newcastle.
Benitez had met Owen and explained Liverpool could neither financially nor morally match a £17 million bid for a striker they'd lost for just £10 million. He was urged to call Madrid's bluff and publicly insist he'd only join Liverpool, or wait until January when his price was drop.
In 2005, however, Owen had the following year's World Cup to consider and wasn't prepared to spend six months on Real Madrid's bench, particularly as his family craved a return to England. He felt he had to join Newcastle. Liverpool felt snubbed and The Kop again believed international aspirations superseded any love for the Liver bird.
On his first return to Anfield in 2005, Owen was taunted mercifully and venomously rather than mocked with a degree of humour with the chant: 'Where were you in Istanbul?' It was unpleasant and undeserved and he was known to be deeply hurt. It never stopped Owen wanting to come back. Indeed, as his contract expired at St James' Park in 2009, the striker was desperate for Benitez to call again.
Benitez, still let down by the events of 2004 and 2005 and wary of those Liverpool fans who did not want Owen to be given a second chance to re-sign, would not entertain the prospect.
The former Liverpool manager has since spoken at length about how the lack of striking cover at Anfield during his final season in 2009-10 contributed to the poor campaign that ended his tenure, so it demonstrates the strength of his resistance to Owen that even as the forward was preparing for an Old Trafford medical and wondering if Liverpool would make a last-ditch, deadline-day move, Benitez made no attempt to scupper that Bosman deal and match the affordable, performance related contract.
Liverpool were not an option for Owen in 2009. It was United, Everton or Hull. All he did was make the logical choice, but for an ex-Liverpool striker to move to Old Trafford was intolerable.
In desperation, Rodgers hinted he might look to Owen when he was a free agent during the summer. It would have been a divisive move, regardless of the lack of firepower at Anfield following Andy Carroll’s exit.
As he warms up on the touchline on Sunday, the best Owen can hope for is to be ignored. Only the passage of time will eventually grant him the respect he deserves at his former home.