A Luis Suarez goal rescued a point for Liverpool, but without a win in the opening 4 it is the reds worst start in 100 years.
Sunderland appeared to be adopting the strategy of allowing Liverpool control of the ball in the early stages - content with picking the ball up on the counter attack.
It was Borini who went closest early on for Liverpool - two shots well dealt with by Mignolet.
However, it was Sunderland who scored first as Liverpool once again failed to convert their possession in to clinical chances.
Gardner did all the hard work before sending in the cross for Fletcher to fire in.
In the second half, and in response to the goal, Liverpool improved with Raheem Sterling the main threat. His cross found Suarez - who misfired his first attempt before dispatching the second rebounded attempt.
Shelvey went close to securing a Liverpool winner - but it wasn't to be and the reds left with another point.
Liverpool welcome Manchester United next weekend after a little matter of a European away day. Liverpool's lack of firepower up front, caused by a transfer window debacle, appears to be hurting. Two points secured - ten points dropped.