Fiorentina turned on the style on Sunday evening, crushing Serie A rivals Internazionale 4-1 in an enthralling game.
For every decision Vincenzo Montella got right, Andrea Stramaccioni got one drastically wrong. Let's take a look at how the tactical duel between the Italian top tier's two youngest managers played out.
Enjoy the slideshow!
Italy's Serie A is the hotspot for three-man defensive systems.
Coaches such as Vincenzo Montella, Andrea Stramaccioni and Francesco Guidolin have all taken notes on Walter Mazzarri's impressive system at Napoli, constructing similar copies themselves.
Defensively speaking, Montella's Fiorentina are arguably the best exponents, and that was proven once again vs. Internazionale.
The back three's innate understanding and knowledge of when to expand and contract according to what's happening around them is astounding. They retained a spare man against the Nerazzurri's front two, forced Fredy Guarin into an ineffectual role and mopped up most second balls.
The one goal conceded was an unstoppable wonder strike from Antonio Cassano.
Adem Ljajic had long been viewed as a winger—particularly by former manager Delio Rossi—but now his role is somewhat less clear.
That's a good thing, by the way, as he frequently roamed across the pitch against Internazionale and caused havoc for the opponent's defensive line.
At times, he was playing one-twos with Stevan Jovetic through the middle. If not, he was overloading the left flank with Manuel Pasqual.
Javier Zanetti had a torrid time and Ljajic's two-goal haul proves it.
Croatian wonderkid Mateo Kovacic arrived at Internazionale this winter for a cool €11 million.
He's 18 years of age, has just moved countries and departed his boyhood club—you'd think the Inter management might ease him in a little?
No dice, Mateo.
He played a disappointing 45 minutes when the Nerazzurri were 2-1 down to Siena (and eventually lost 3-1), and started against Fiorentina but was hauled off at the interval.
Kovacic is slight, young and, quintessentially speaking, a No. 10. Why Andrea Stramaccioni chose to deploy him as a deep left central midfielder while Fredy Guarin plays in the hole I'm not sure, but the decision was bad on paper and terrible in practice.
The lasting impression of Alberto Aquilani in England is one of utter wastefulness. In Italy, however, he's been reborn.
Against Internazionale, the former Roma playmaker had another excellent game, dropping into pockets of space, surging forward, passing assuredly and contributing one unbelievable assist.
He favoured the right side and got the better of an out-of-position Mateo Kovacic with ease, while a shape change in the second half from Inter gave him no obvious opponent.
He and David Pizarro controlled the midfield with ease and recycled possession well to make sure Fiorentina's biggest attacking threats—Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Adem Ljajic and Stevan Jovetic—were consistently involved.
Earlier in the season, when Vincenzo Montella's formation was more of a 3-5-2 than a 3-5-1-1, David Pizarro wasn't playing the prototypical holding role he's famous for.
His positioning is excellent and his ability to control games in an unfashionable way was the envy of many players, so it was curious to see him deployed further forward than Borja Valero.
Although this undeniably worked, Pizarro has since been moved back into his regista-esque role and shines even brighter.
After 70 minutes, his work was done and the game was over. He was withdrawn and replaced by Mohamed Sissoko.
Roma could really do with a man this calm of nature in their midfield—what were they thinking?