Sicily: Gian Piero Gasperini's spell as Inter Milan coach began in worrying fashion on Sunday night as his side lost 4-3 to Palermo in a highly-entertaining encounter in Sicily.
In Inter's first match since Samuel Eto'o transferred to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, it was the first time Inter allowed four goals in a league match in more than seven years, since falling 4-1 to Roma in March, 2004.
The Nerazzurri back-three were particularly suspect throughout, and it was their lack of understanding that ensured that the visitors were pegged back after Diego Milito had twice given his side the lead.
"We struggled with their counter-attack and obviously those situations are not acceptable and must be improved," Gasperini said.
Palermo's South American strike pairing, Fabrizio Miccoli and Abel Hernandez were the men who took full advantage of the Inter malaise to level the scores, before Fabrizio Miccoli and Mauricio Pinilla added stunning late strikes to complete a shock victory.
On a warm night in the Sicilian capital, Inter started with 11 foreigners and all three substitutes were also non-Italian.
The match began at a frantic pace, with the hosts seemingly intent on taking the game to an Inter side which looked more than a little unsure of how to adapt their new coach’s 3-4-3 formation.
Palermo captain Fabrizio Miccoli was causing particular problems by drifting into the space down the Inter left vacated by Jonathan whenever he advanced down the right flank.
In the fifth minute, Miccoli dispossessed Mauro Zarate wide on the left and whipped over a near-post cross which Abel Hernandez met with a powerful downward header. Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar was well-positioned, however, and plunged to his left to parry.
While Palermo continued to dominate, they were restricted to a series of weak long-range efforts. Miccoli, with a deflected free-kick, and Josip Ilicic peppered the Inter goal with efforts from distance, but neither caused Julio Cesar any real alarm.
Their inability to harness their boundless energy and convert it into tangible goalscoring opportunities was suitably punished just after the half-hour when Inter snatched the lead against the run of play.
Zarate fired over a low corner which was only cleared as far as Dejan Stankovic on the egde of the box. The Serbian immediately lashed the ball back towards goal, where Milito was perfectly positioned to stick out a leg to deflect the ball past Alexandros Tzorvas to open the scoring.
However, Gasperini was not entirely fooled by his side having taken the lead and immediately replaced Zarate with Wesley Sneijder.
From then on in, the Nerazzurri assumed control without particularly threatening to add to their lead.
However, the game exploded into life in the second period, and no sooner had the second half began than the hosts were back on level terms when Miccoli scampered onto Edgar Barreto's lofted pass and slotted past the advancing Julio Cesar.
There was hardly time for either side to catch their breath before Inter reassumed control when Milito fired a spot-kick down the middle following Barreto's clumsy challenge on Walter Samuel.
Amazingly, Palermo restored parity for a second time just two minutes later. Ilicic and Miccoli combined to dissect a woefully exposed and inept Inter back-three, and the Palermo captain squared for Hernandez to tap into an empty net.
In the 64th minute, Ilicic blew a glorious one-on-one opportunity to give his side the lead when he fired straight at the advancing Julio Cesar, but Palermo would not be denied and scored twice in the final four minutes to secure the win.
Miccoli whipped a 25-yard free-kick into the net via the post in the 86th minute and then, two minutes later, substitute Pinilla gave the Inter custodian no chance with a thunderous strike to make the score 4-2.
Diego Forlan marked his Inter debut with an injury-time strike to pull his side back into things, but they could not find the goal needed to snatch a point, leaving Gasperini with real food for thought going into Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Trabzonspor.
Elsewhere, big-spending AS Roma boss Luis Enrique also suffered an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat by Cagliari on his league bow on Sunday. Roma, sixth last term, have spent millions on new players since being taken over by American investors.
Daniele Conti, son of former Roma stalwart Bruno, grabbed the opener mid-way through the second half after a mistake by new Roma defender Jose Angel, who was soon sent off for a rash tackle. Moestafa El Kabir added the Sardinians' second in injury time before Daniele De Rossi's consolation.
Spaniard Luis Enrique started veteran Roma forward Francesco Totti despite tensions between the pair in close-season, but neither he nor the likes of new signing Bojan Krkic could especially threaten.
In other results, it was - Catania 0, Siena 0; Chievo Verona 2, Novara 2; Fiorentina 2, Bologna 0; Genoa 2, Atalanta 2; Lecce 0, Udinese 2; and Roma 1, Cagliari 2.
(With inputs from agencies)