Marcello Lippi's provisional squad for the World Cup contained few surprises and many of the same old names from the Azzurri's success four years ago.
In naming such a squad, many Italy fans feel he is neglecting some of the peninsula's best talent. Which leads one to ask the question: What would the Azzurri team Lippi has left behind look like?
(Note - in making my selection, I have not included any of the 29 in the provisional squad, nor the unnamed Roma and overseas players likely to be included - i.e. De Rossi, Giuseppe Rossi and possibly Francesco Totti)
In goal, the strongest candidate is a world cup winner who has already appeared for Italy on a number of occasions. Marco Amelia probably thought his Azzurri future was secure when he was part of the triumphant squad in Berlin four years ago, but a number of shaky performances for the Azzurri in Buffon's absence, including a nightmare game against New Zealand in the Confederations Cup warm up put paid to his hopes of making the squad.
However, there is no doubting his natural ability as a shot stopper and he has had a decent season at Genoa. He is still a top class keeper and were it not for the magnificent Gigi, he would likely be in the squad.
At right back, Fiorentina's dynamic young defender would bring pace and a real attacking threat to the team.
Viewed by many in Italy as a true potential successor to Gianluca Zambrotta, De Silvestri's season was so to start due to injury but since the turn of the year (and until Fiorentina's whole team seemed to give up) he was a revelation for La Viola, giving them a better balance and offering much more than Comotto or Jorgensen had done previously. Although it is only a matter of time before he breaks into the full Azzurri squad, many believe he should already be there.
Inter's other Italian starlet, Santon immediately proved he was destined for greatness when he broke through last season with assured displays in big games against Milan and Manchester United, memorably putting in a good performance against Cristiano Ronaldo in the San Siro.
Lippi is known to be a huge fan of Santon, and were it not for an injury-blighted season, there is a good chance he would have been on the plane to South Africa. But Lippi's loss is this team's gain...
The other half of Bari's all Italian central defence, many forget that Ranocchia was actually outshining his teammate Bonucci before injury cruelly robbed him of half a season and the chance of a trip to South Africa.
Fast, composed and seemingly completely at ease in partnership with Bonucci, these two could form the Azzurri defence of the future. But in the meantime, we will take him as one half of the central defence in this alternative Azzurri team.
One of the true greats, there are many in Italy who think that the stronger half of the Cannavaro-Nesta partnership has been left at home.
Of course, injury robbed us of the chance of knowing whether Nesta would have returned, but for this alternative team he would be a perfect partner for the inexperienced Ranocchia. When fit, there are still few defenders in world football who can match him, and it is no coincidence that Milan's season started stuttering when he suffered his season-ending injury.
Every midfield needs a ball winner, and Lippi has left behind one of Italy's best in Massimo Ambrosini.
Not a player to everyone's tastes (what ball winners are?), there is no doubting the energy and grit he would bring to the team. This season in particular, he seems to have taken over Gattuso's role in the Milan team as its beating heart, fighting for every ball, not to mention the goal threat he can pose from set pieces.
Once thought of as a classic 'fantasista', D'Agostino only really found his role following his move to Udinese when he began to playing as a deep-lying central midfielder; the playmaker in front of the defence pinging passes around the field.
It was a transition not unlike Andrea Pirlo's, and Lippi clearly agreed as he tried him on a few occasions as a "vice-Pirlo". However, injury and Udinese's up and down season meant he lost his chance to make the trip to South Africa, but there is no doubt of the contribution he would make to this alternative XI.
The final piece of the jigsaw for our three man midfield, Alberto Aquilani may only just be starting to win over the Liverpool faithful, but those who have seen him play with consistency have no doubt over his ability.
Surely a certainty to feature regularly for the Azzurri in the future, his fine attacking play would make him a valuable addition to any team.
There hasn't been a better Italian player this season than Palermo's Fabrizio Miccoli. In the second half of the season, in particular, he has simply taken off, lifting the rosaneri to the brink of the Champions League.
He floundered somewhat when provided with his chance for the Azzurri by Trapattoni back in 2004, but now that he has found a real home in Sicily, his consistent performances merit being given at least another chance for La Nazionale. And if Lippi won't give that chance, we will as he forms the first part of the attacking trident.
Probably the most controversial Italian player of his generation, Antonio Cassano has played his way out of the plans of some of the world's best coaches, including both Fabio Capello and, of course, Marcello Lippi.
It is a true tragedy that Lippi couldn't offer an olive branch as Cassano is probably the only Italian player at the moment who could truly spring a surprise on opposing teams. He can do it all - dribble, cross, pass, shoot. The Azzurri really don't have another player like him, which makes his exclusion all the more frustrating. If only he could calm his crazy streak.
Speaking of which . . .
The reason I used the word "probably" in the last slide is that Italy has a new controversial 'genio'. The boy divides even his own fans, but boy can he play.
Bursting onto the Inter scene when he was 17, he immediately looked at home playing top level football. Anyone that has seen him play knows that they have seen someone special; someone that could truly be one of the best in the world. Able to play either on the wing or as a more conventional centre forward, he would challenge for a place in any top team. Before he can realise that potential, however, he needs to lose some of the attitude.
Assuming he can keep his temper under control though, he would form a mouth-watering final part of this attacking trident however.
And what about the substitutes for this alternative XI? Well, there are many to choose from, but how about:
Sebastian Giovinco (pictured)
That would give some good options for all over the pitch.
So here is the alternative Azzurri XI:
De Silvestri Ranocchia Nesta Santon
Subs: Consigli; Gamberini; Motta; Marchionni; Giovinco; Matri
I think the above shows the strength in depth Italy have, as that team would surely give many teams in the world a tough match. Or maybe it just shows some of the mistakes that Lippi has made in his selection . . .
No doubt others will have their own views on alternative Azzurri XIs - why not post your own teams in the comments section below?