AC Milan had their worst ever showing in the TIM trophy last night, as they finished bottom with zero points behind Inter Milan and Juventus, and failed to score a single goal in their two matches.
The Rossoneri were optimistic going into the unique and prestigious Tropheo TIM, after the recent signings of Huntelaar and Flavio Roma. But the same old problems haunted Milan as they lost both their 45-minute matches to Inter and Juventus.
In the first match of the tournament, Juventus beat Inter on penalties, after the game ended in a 1-1 draw. That meant that Milan would face Inter next.
Leonardo chose to go with Marco Storari in the goal, with Nesta and Favalli in the center of defense. Huntelaar made his first start in the red and black as well, playing alongside Pato up front, with Ronaldinho playing just behind the two.
The Nerazzurri were tested early on by Antonini and then Pato, but Inter keeper Cesar kept out both attempts.
Inter won a free-kick in the 22nd minute which was immediately converted into a goal by striker Mario Balotelli, as he fully exploited the sloppy Milan marking.
Inter's defense was strong enough to deny Milan any hopes of an equalizer and Inter went on to win the match 1-0.
Against Juventus in the next match, new signing Flavio Roma replaced Storari in the goal. Leonardo maintained the formation he played against Inter and hoped that Milan would be more creative against Juve and bring in a better result.
But things would only go from bad to worse for Milan as Juventus scored first in the 14th minute with Amauri.
Keeper Flavio Roma looked unsettled in the goal, but still managed to make a couple of crucial saves after the Amauri goal. But it wasn't long until Amauri's strike partner at Juventus, Iaquinta, scored a second one and crushed all Rossoneri hopes.
Milan would try to launch an attack but were denied by Juventus, who went on to win the match and lift the trophy for the first time as well.
Three-time winners, Milan finished last.
Pato, probably Milan's best player on the pitch, was adventurous and seemed to work well with Huntelaar. It's only a matter of time before we see goals from the duo.
But Milan just failed to control the midfield and creativity was sporadic. The enigmatic Ronaldinho needs to step up his game and feed the strikers often, for us to see some goals.
Though Oddo and Antonini were decent going forward, the full-backs failed to do their defensive duties to the fullest. The Milan defense looked anything but solid. And then, it was the old ghost of set-pieces that once again lost them the match against Inter.
A disappointing preseason and this performance in the TIM trophy is anything but good news for Milan. It's a tough road ahead for them, if they intend to challenge Inter and Juventus for the Serie A title.
Milan do need time, for the new players to settle, and for all the players to gel as a real team under Leonardo. Even as he remained confident and optimistic about Milan's chances this season, he is fully aware of the challenge.
Each loss is a lesson learned. But the question is: How many more lessons before we see the Rossoneri win again?